Stefano Novello is another or those winemakers who truly believe they are not here to own the land but rather to protect it and accompany the grapes in their journey from the vineyard to the bottle while they become wine. He also believes in biodynamic agriculture, hand-picking harvesting and always bottling under a waning moon. His winery, Ronco Severo, inherited from his father Severo Novello back in 1998, is located in the Italian paradise of the white wines, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, but the small area in which we can finds it is Prepotto (Udine), a subzone of the Colli Orientali DOC. known by its wonderful red wines produced with the local variety Schioppettino. Thus, the name of the wines coming from this area: Schioppettino di Prepotto.

The white wines of Stefano are well recognized, especially among those of us with a passion for Orange wines or wines with longer periods of maceration in contact with the skins. In this, he works very well, extending this period to up to 48 days for his white blend, Severo Bianco, an IGT Venezia Giulia blend of Chardonnay, Friulano, Picolit and Ribolla Gialla.

If you’ve been reading our series about wineries in the Friuli area we are sure you are an expert now on the characteristics we can find here: the protection of the Pre-Julian Alps in the back, the cool breeze and the Bora wind from the Adriatic Sea in the front and the Ponca or Flysch sandstone rock soil giving so much structure and personality to the wines. Stefano adds to this a high density in his vineyards for making the vines fight for nurturing while keeping a low amount of fruit per vine, because as he says, ‘as many people do, vines perform at their best when they experience some stress.’

We are in love with Ribolla Gialla, either dry, macerated or sparkling, and Stefano produces it macerated. We were attracted to this wine, always wanting to enjoy more Ribolla Gialla wines, but what called more for our attention was that he believes his red wines are his best, especially one of them, Artiûl, a Colli Orientali Del Friuli DOC 100% Merlot. And if we love red wines, Merlot is our preferred one too. And if our senses were not just overflowing, or better said, our tasting buds, Stefano makes a Schioppettino people talk wonders about. And we have found that the Schioppettino grape makes luscious wines in this area. So we needed to talk to Stefano.

The Schioppettino (also known as Ribolla Nera) is a local red variety of the Friuli and nearby Slovenia region and where it shows its best character is in the Prepotto area. Records shown that it was already known back in the XIII Century. The Schioppettino is one of the three most important local red varieties, along with the Pignolo and the Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso.

Stefano’s production is four white wines and three red ones, all but the aforementioned Severo Bianco are single varietals.

Ronco Severo Pinot Grigio. IGT Venezia Giulia Pinot Grigio 100%. After harvest the grapes are left to ferment on the skins for about a month in truncated cone shaped oak vats, without any temperature control, and without adding selected yeasts. Once pressed the wine remains on the lees for 23 months in 20-hectoliter Slavonian oak barrels.

Ronco Severo Friulano. DOC Colli Orientali Del Friuli. Friulano 100%. This wine stays on its lees for 11 months in 30-hectoliter Slavonian oak barrels, and undergoes bâtonnage every 3 days. The wine then ages in the same barrels for about another 12 months.

Ronco Severo Ribolla Gialla Delle Venezie. Ribolla Gialla 100% The fermentation is on the skins in 10-hectoliter truncated cone shaped oak vats. After pressing the wine remains on the lees for 11 months in 30- hectoliter Slavonian oak barrels and then ages in the same barrels for another 12 months.

Severo Bianco IGT Venezia Giulia. A white blend of Chardonnay, Friulano, Picolit and Ribolla Gialla. After a long period of maceration with the skins, the wine remains on the lees for about 23 months in Slavonian oak barrels.

The three red wines are:

Ronco Severo Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso. DOC Colli Orientali Del Friuli. Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso 100%. The grapes undergo long maceration on the skins with frequent punch-downs of the cap. No temperature control and no extra yeasts and lactic bacteria added. The wine remains on the lees for 2 years in 20-hectoliter Slavonian oak barrels.

Ronco Severo Artiûl. DOC Colli Orientali Del Friuli. Merlot 100%. Stefano calls this wine perhaps his best one. Artïûl is the name, in Friulano, given to the newly born grass that grows in the fields after the hay has been collected. This was the first new wine he produced when the management of the estate was handed down from his father Severo. The grapes are left to ferment for a long period of time on the skins in truncated cone shaped oak vats, without any temperature control, and without adding selected yeasts or enzymes. After fermentation, the wine is lightly pressed and racked into 225-liter French oak barrel where it ages for 3 years. A great Bordelaise-style wine, it seems to be set for a long life and freshness.

Ronco Severo Schioppettino. DOC Colli Orientali Del Friuli. Schioppettino di Prepotto 100%.

The exact description according to the DOC regulations reads: Schioppettino di Prepotto a Subzone of the Colli Orientali D.O.C. area. The grapes undergo long maceration with frequent cap push-downs; the pomace is then pressed and the wine racked into oak barrels. The wine remains on the lees for 30 months in 20-hectoliter Slavonian oak barrels and is bottled without filtration.

Soon we will talk to Stefano about his wines and his winemaking philosophy.

Photos (C) Ronco Severo

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