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Scarbolo, “Il Ramato” Pinot Grigio

Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$24.00
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Scarbolo, “Il Ramato” Pinot Grigio

Not only do we advocate for aging some rosé wines, we also recommend drinking rosé all year round. That said, we’re not talking about any old rosé: quite a lot of what you see out there is great for sipping poolside and…that’s about it. Today we have a wine which not only has the stuffing for year-round consumption but will change the way you think not just about rosé but about the criminally misunderstood Pinot Grigio grape. 

I’ve spilled a lot of ink over the years arguing that Pinot Grigio, when grown in northeastern-most Italy and treated with respect by producers like Valter Scarbolo, can be serious white wine. Today’s wine is a modern interpretation of a classic style of Pinot Grigio from Scarbolo’s home region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia—the ramato, or “coppery,” style, which is what Pinot Grigio used to be in the pre-technology era. Whether you call it Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, this variety is effectively a “red” grape when ripe, so named for the grey/purple hue of its skins. As with most other dark-skinned varieties, its juice is clear, so it’s possible to vinify it as a “white” wine so long as you avoid skin contact (just like with Pinot Noir in Champagne). What Scarbolo does with Il Ramato is let Pinot Grigio live its best life: Macerated briefly on its skins at the start of its fermentation, Il Ramato could correctly be characterized as a vin gris, one that showcases the rich, layered texture the variety is capable of when farmed with care. It is neither as tutti-frutti as most rosés, nor is it oxidative and funky like many “orange” wines. It’s just seriously good wine that will forever change your perceptions of this star-crossed variety. 

Scarbolo’s winery and a portion of his 30 hectares of vineyards are in the town of Lauzacco, about 15 minutes south of Udine and at the eastern edge of the “Friuli Grave” DOC, right where it runs up to the Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli appellations. The soils in Grave are more alluvial in origin in comparison to Collio/Colli Orientali, but the positioning of the vineyards enables them to take advantage of the same “air conditioning” that makes Friuli so unique—warmer Adriatic air from the south is tempered by cooling breezes from the Julian Alps to the north, which creates wide diurnal shifts and a longer growing season for white grapes. There is no shortage of ripeness and intensity in Friulian whites, but they retain freshness and focus as well, which is why the region has emerged as Italy’s premier white-wine destination.

In addition to making wine, Valter runs a perfect little Friulian osteria called “La Frasca,” and I think his sensibility as a restaurateur (and maker of incredible salumi and other cured meats) informs this wine. There are lots of savory notes in this 2019, which, true to its name, required only 24 hours of cold maceration on its skins to extract this appealing copper hue. It was fermented in stainless steel and aged for eight months in tank, where it was subjected to weekly bâtonnage (lees stirring) to add depth and complexity. Aromas of red apple, blood orange peel, wild berries, cantaloupe, cinnamon, clove, and Kombucha tea carry over to the generous, juicy palate, which rides a wave of bright acidity through a fresh and floral finish. It’s got good weight but also good “cut” (including a little touch of tea-like tannin) for pairing with richer seafood preparations, cured meats (it’d be great with prosciutto), or roast chicken. My inclination is to keep it simple and get your hands on Friuli’s ultimate culinary delicacy, Prosciutto di San Daniele. Whether you’re just picking slices off a plate or doing something more elaborate (see attached), this wine is the perfect accompaniment. There are a lot of foods I could say that about, so stock up accordingly!

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