The first stand-out visit of the trip was at the wonderful Ronchi di Cialla.
We arrived and were greeted by none other than the man himself- Paolo Rapuzzi. He, along with his wife Dina, founded the winery and began planting the vineyards in 1970. One of my trip mates, Elaine, transcribed what Paolo told us of the beginnings of the things as we stood in the sun overlooking the hills of Cialla. Please have a look as my recounting won’t do it any justice.
We sat down for lunch with the whole family, pictured below are son Ivan and wife Dina. We were to taste several of the wines, some verticals with older vintages, and eat typical Friulano food. Done and done. Let’s do that!
Started off with a bang with their Cialla Bianco (ribolla, verduzzo, picolit). 2001 and 1994. Dang. The 2001 was as fresh as the day outside, but the 1994 was a wine you could sit with and think about life. The fruit had softened and mellowed delicately behind a powerhouse of minerality. Iron, iron and more iron. Crazy good with the Prosciutto di San Daniele served to us.
How about a vertical of Schioppettino, my current grape obsession? Yes, please. 2008, 1998 and 1988. Ivan said these wines best reflect Ronchi di Cialla since they are the most important for them. Man oh man. I could drink this stuff all day. The 2008 and the 1988 were winners, if there was any competition.
I can taste them right now as I type. There was a freshness and vibrancy in the older wines that really impressed me. You know what else impressed me? The oak integration. All of the wines are barrique aged (40% new, 60% 2nd or 3rd passage) and you would never even know it.
We tried some great Refosco as well, 2004 and 1987. And finished lunch with a 1983 Verduzzo di Cialla that was freaking fantastic. “A sweet, but not sweet wine.”
A splendid day at the table.