In past articles about my beloved Friuli-Venezia Giulia I have had the chance of talking about the autochthonous grapes that I so much love: The Ribolla Gialla (also known as Rebula in Slovenia), the Vitovska, the Istrian Malvasia (Malvazija Istarska), the Friulano, the Verduzzo… They are varieties that produce wines that I love since the first time I tasted and enjoyed them.

There are two red varieties growing only in the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC wine region that I think they are amazing. The Schioppettino di Prepotto is one of them. This is a grape that grows around the municipality of Prepotto, in the province of Udine. I have tasted and enjoyed the wines Tenuta di Angoris, Stefano Novello of Ronco Severo and Marco Sara are producing. My dear friend Mario Zanusso from I Clivi started producing an Schioppettino wine in the 2019 vintage that I still haven’t tasted but I’m looking forward to enjoying it. They are outstanding wines in my opinion. Another name for this grape is Ribolla Nera, though it is not related to the Ribolla Gialla.

There is another autochthonous red variety that has become very important. Also around the small town of Prepotto grows this particular grape variety called Refosco Dal Pedunculo Rosso. The RDR is a grape belonging to the family of the Refosco/Refosk and the Terrano/Teran, named accordingly to which side of the Italian/Slovenian/Croatian border we are. It is a grape high in the acidity department that if not managed well can give very rustic wines. Some important producers making RDR wines are Bastianich, Castello di Rubbia, Primosic o Ronchi di Ciala in Italy, Georgio Clai in Croatia and Marko Fon and Uros Klabjan in Slovenia.

When you know how to work with these two varieties you are able to produce great wines. Such is the case of Massimo Durì, heir of a family winemaking tradition. Massimo runs Antico Broilo, where magic happens with both the Refosco Dal Pedunculo Rosso and the Schioppettino. His philosophy is quite simple but true to the grapes, following the tradition passed on from father onto sons for four generations: spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts, minimal intervention, minimum amount of sulfites and allowing Nature to help grow the wines. In the red wines, ageing takes place in oak barrels for 24 months. Then some time in the bottle is added, and longer ageing periods for their Riserva wines.

The Dusì family runs six hectares of vineyards producing 25-28,000 bottles per year. They also grow Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Ribolla Gialla and Friulano. The two white varieties macerate on the skins for a few days before ageing for a few months in steel tanks before bottling and going into the market. When talking about his Ribolla, Massimo says that ‘it is a great interpretation of a simple grape variety but with a determined and clean character.’

But the place where Massimo feels at home is with the red wines. As some people say, Massimo is a red wine producer living in a land of white wines, as is the Collio. He loves to age his red wines for twenty-four months. All of them are single varietal wines, coming from different small plots, some of them reaching 70 years of age.

In years where the grapes are of outstanding quality he produces Riserva wines. The Merlot has been elevated to Riserva status in the vintages of 2003 and 2016 only. The Refosco was Riserva in 2003, 2008, 2011 and 2016. The elegant Schioppettino di Prepotto was produced under the Riserva label in the vintages 2003, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2015. The wines age twenty-four moths in oak and then another twenty-four months in the bottle before being released into the market. According to Massimo, ‘this is a very eclectic wine, almost like the greatest Pinot Noir, and for this reason we like to think about it as one of the most elegant and finest wines.’

 The Refosco is a very interesting wine. My first Refosco wines were very, let’s say, very rough, wines with high acidity and quite unbalanced. Since then I have been able to enjoy good Refosco wines, though I was very reluctant to that, and discovered a native grape that makes outstanding wines. In my opinion it still has that kind of ‘rusticity´ that I found in the first place, but when the winemakers know how to work with it, the outcome is very good. Massimo, as rossista, knows how to do it, and his Refosco Dal Pedunculo Rosso is very good. True to its character, balanced and elegant, a wine that makes you enjoy while you drink it.

I haven’t said anything about the Collio being a place where you might find great wines produced with the Pinot Noir. As I mentioned, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a place where the best white wines of Italy are born. However, the Pinot Noir offers great wines here. And Massimo’s is a great example. Very fine wine, with a medium body but rich and elegant in the palate.

The Ribolla Gialla is the queen of the Collio. And this being the case, the one produced by Antico Broilo is also majestic. Smooth honeyed aromas that capture from the very beginning and with an elegant palate that makes you enjoy not only an orange wine, but a well produced wine. 2019 was a great vintage for this wine.

So far I have been able to taste these three wines, but I’m planning on tasting the rest of Massimo’s wines, especially the Schioppettino. I have found and enjoyed really good wines using this varietal and I can only think about how it will be the one Antico Broilo is producing.

Soon we will talk to Massimo Durì about his winemaking style.

Photos (C) Antico Broilo