Friday, October 20
$15 / 6-8 PM / no reservations

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic orange schiopettino verduzzo
Please join us for a special winemaker tasting tonight with Ivan Rapuzzi, of our beloved Ronchi di Cialla estate, located in Italy’s Friuli region. The Rapuzzi family are custodians of grapes, in particular, schiopettino,  and are amongst the small number of growers in Italy who are energetically committed to saving the historic and often fragile grape varieties of their regions. None of this would matter much if these marginal grapes were mere historical curiosities, but as you will see tonight, they are much more than that. Tasting these wines is akin to opening a window onto a spectrum of flavors and textures that come from a very different time and place.

As you travel east to Friuli on the autostrada you get the feeling, quite abruptly, that not only are you not in Kansas anymore, but you’re also not quite in Italy, either. As you enter Friuli, the signs you see on the autostrada are bilingual, with both Italian and Friulano, the latter with Slovenian diacritics. This is a part of contemporary Italy that historically hewed to the east, to the Austro-Hungarian empire, and indeed, a good chunk of the region remained under Austrian rule until the end of the First World War.

The wines, too, hew to a sensibility that is not quite Italian, no longer Austrian, but wholly Friulian. Back in the 70s, Ivan’s parents knew that the historic and noble red grape of the region, schiopettino, was extinct, and he set out to see if he could find any stray vines with which to cultivate. The destructive phylloxera louse and two world wars really did a number on the grape variety, and although the wine was an artifact of living memory, no one was cultivating it or had even seen it for years. At first, he had no luck but then, serendipitously, Paolo Rapuzzi discovered a single, feral vine of schiopettino in the garden of the mayor of Prepotto, the small town hard against the Slovenian border in which the estate lies. The Rapuzzis were able to locate and salvage a few other schiopettino vines and soon had enough genetic material to graft over a vineyard to schiopettino, thus saving a grape that I find tremendously exciting. We’re tasting several schiopettino-based wines tonight, including the current vintage of their original replantation (2011), another wine from younger vines that they bottle with the grape’s nickname (2013), ribolla nero (no relationship at all with ribolla gialla), and one bottle only (first come) of a 1983 vintage schiopettino, again from the original replantation. We’re also tasting their earthy, rustic 2010 pignolo from magnum, another grape that the Rapuzzi family have worked to salvage, as well as an older bottling of their fantastic 1990 refosco. To start, a crisp apéro, 2015 Ronchi di Cialla friulano, and to finish, their 2011 skin-contact verduzzo.

Ronchi di Cialla Friulano Friuli 2015
Ronchi di Cialla “Ribolla Nera” Schiopettino Friuli 2013
Ronchi di Cialla Schiopettino Friuli 2011
Ronchi di Cialla Schiopettino Friuli 1983 (one bottle only – first come)
Ronchi di Cialla Pignolo Friuli (magnum) 2010
Ronchi di Cialla Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso 1990
Ronchi di Cialla Verduzzo Friuli 2011

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