Refosco - Northern italy’s hidden wine gem             

Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso is both the name of a grape as well as the red wine produced from that grape. Both the grape and the wine are popularly known as “Refosco” although technically it is only one sub-variety of the extended Refosco grape family. It is grown principally in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in northeast Italy and the nearby Venezia and Treviso provinces of the Veneto region. The grape has been well known since antiquity and is believed to be indigenous to northeast Italy. Various ancient Roman writers and personalities sang the praises of Refosco wines.

The Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso grape derives its name from its red stems that distinguish it from other Refosco varieties. Literally, it translates as Refosco with the red stem (peduncolo rosso). It is a late-ripening variety and is known for producing wines that are full-bodied with high levels of acidity and robust structures and personalities.

Historically, most Refosco wines were consumed locally and very few found their way into the international markets. However, Refosco wines have benefitted from the upsurge of interest in recent years in wines from the Friuli region in general. More Refosco wines are exported today than ever before and some Refosco wines have found their way to retail shops in the U.S. However, Refosco wines receive little notice and are not heavily marketed. It’s safe to say that they are not on the radar screens of most U.S. wine consumers.

I was recently given a bottle of Refosco by an Italian friend. It is a 2008 Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso produced by the Moletto winery, a family-owned estate in the 2008 Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso from Molettoprovince of Treviso in the Veneto region not far from Friuli. This deeply colored wine is robust and full-bodied with discernible tannins yet polished and supple with black fruit flavors and almond notes. It has a long and pleasant finish marked with notes of plums and currants. The Refosco’s prominent acidity, typical for this variety, makes it a good complement to a wide variety of foods, especially grilled meats and other hearty meat entrees.

While Refosco can be hard to find, a few labels are available locally:

Fantinel, Refosco “Sant’Helena” 2006 (about $24)
In addition to owning restaurants, hotels and other businesses throughout central and northern Italy, the Fantinel family produces some of the best wines to come out of the Friuli region. This Refosco dal Peduncolo is aged in wood and richly appointed with tannins and acidity. Available at IM Wine in Fulton, MD.

La Roncaia, Refosco 2006 (about $40)
This Refosco is from the Fantinel’s La Roncaia estate in the rolling hills around Nimis in the Friuli region. While the wine is dry, it does include some partially dried grapes in the appassimento fashion. After fermentation, the wine is aged in barriques for 18 months and then spends 6 months in the bottle for a rich and decadent drinking experience. Available at MacArthur Beverages in Washington, D.C.

Note – prices indicated are averages of generally available retail prices and will vary from store to store. While in stock at time of writing, stores may sell out of the selections so availability is not guaranteed.  It is best to call to check on price and availability before making the trip.

©Richard Marcis
September 18, 2011

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