The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: La Roncaia and…La Roncaia!

Posted on | March 11, 2015 | Written by Crystal Edgar | No Comments

Crystal 2014Italy boasts such a wide and diverse selection of wine that you can never really get bored tasting through the country’s exciting regions. I love the classic wines of Piedmont and Tuscany, of course, but I also have a special soft spot for wines off the beaten path, regions slightly off the radar and grape varieties that are considered anything but normal. Today, I choose to highlight wines from Friuli’s vastly underrated zone, Collio Orientali del Friuli.

La Roncaia, a boutique estate located on the rugged foothills of Friuli, is the result of the vision of the Fantinel family, and it produces some of the most interesting wine in the appellation, with only a tiny amount each year. Although the Fantinel family also owns a chain of prosciutto bars as well as a soccer team, wine is their first love. La Roncaia was created in partnership with Tibor Gal, who was instrumental in the creation of Ornellaia and Masseto before heading to Friuli for this venture. Working side by side with Marco Fantinel, these men aimed to elevate local grapes wines into the upper echelon of better-known Italian greats.

I enjoy opening these wines with clients because they always impress and bring to life a region of Italy that is often overlooked. Aside from offering great value, these wines offer incredible drinking pleasure with an element of surprise!

La Roncaia Sauvignon Blanc Eclisse 2013 $37.99

A blend of primarily Sauvignon Blanc touched with a soupcon of barrique-aged Picolit, La Roncaia’s Eclisse throws enchanting aromas of Meyer lemon, zesty lime, peach and white floral notes. Exuberant, unusual and drinking superbly today.

La Roncaia Refosco 2011 $47.99

Refosco is the most celebrated red grape varietal in Friuli, and La Roncaia truly has taken Refosco to new levels, using an appassimento approach to this local grape. This ’11 Refosco is age-worthy, though it’s already drinking beautifully and perfectly paired with roasted and braised meat, cheese and other rich and satiating savory favorites. Deep purple in color with a vibrant nose of wild berries and a rich, smooth palate to match, the wine almost reminds me of Quintarelli’s Valpolicella in the aromas, texture and overall style.

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