Indigenous grapePIcolit, one of the oldest native Italian varieties
Friuli Venezia Giulia, situated in Italy’s northeastern corner, has been a distinguished area for white winemaking since the early 70s.
A quick look at the Picolit grape – the nectar of kings
One of the most exceptional wine appellations in Friuli Venezia Giulia is Colli Orientali del Friuli. Wines from Colli Orientali del Friuli have delicate, and fragrant aromas. Elegant and bright local wines that have put this charming region on the world wine map.
The location is privileged. The vineyards paint the hillside, protected from the north winds by the Julian Alps, and they benefit from the proximity of the Adriatic sea. The composition of the Soil is formed by layers of sandstone and marl called “Ponca” in the Friuliano language or flysch of Cormons, the latter named after a town in the area. Experts prefer to differentiate between those two terms by saying that Ponca is a unique geological formation that can only be found in the area of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Istria, and Slovenia. When Sun exposure is ideal, vines here deliver an excellent wine.
Among the numerous native grapes that this land offers to the wine world we have chosen the noblest: Picolit.
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Picolit is one of the oldest native Italian varieties that we can find in historical documents.
In the early eighteenth century, it was introduced to the European clergy and nobility by Count Asquini from Fagagna, a town northwest of Udine. He was exporting Picolit wines to major cities and establishing successful trade all over Europe.
Later on, the combination of Count Asquini’s death and the arrival of filoxera led to the near disappearance of the Picolit grape.
A few decades after a family wine estate believed that the reintroduction of native grapes was fundamental in maintaining the cultural identity of their territory.
We must all give thanks to the Perusinis. This enthusiastic family of winemakers painstakingly worked to revive the Picolit grape. To this day their estate continues to produce excellent wine.
Picolit means small in Friulano. This grape was named for its small bunch size. Grapevines are hermaphroditic plants, which have both male and female parts. The peculiarity of the Picolit grape is the male part of the plant, which suffers from sterility. So in some cases, fertilization does not occur properly. As a result, this vine produces poor yields, with small bunches and few berries.
Picolit grapevine suffers from floral abortion
Image courtesy of Azienda Agricola Marco Sara
Picolit is a superlative grape for late harvest wine
Picolit grapes produce a sweet wine but you can sometimes find some unique dry wines. Grape picking starts in October to let the fruit concentrate a high amount of sugar.
Grapes are left on the vine until they reach peak ripeness. This can eventually encourage the development of noble rot (a beneficial form of a grey fungus typical of Sauternes wines). Here, meticulous harvest skill is crucial.
Alternatively, winemakers can decide to harvest grapes early, place them in rooms with specific conditions, and leave the grapes to dry for at least a month.
These wines offer varied colors, aromas, and flavours depending on how the grapes are dehydrated before pressing. The terroir, or the complete natural environment where the wine is produced, also plays a part in the flavour profile.
Rich in texture, flower-scented, dried apricot, tropical hints, and gently honeyed are some of the sensations this lesser-known Sauternes rival may present.
It reaches its prime 5 years from harvest, experts say.
If you would like to experience the finest Picolit wine do not miss out on these four subzones: Cialla, Rosazzo, Rocca Berarda, and Savorgnano del Torre.
This wine is marvelous on its own as a meditation wine, however, it also pairs well with blue cheese and dry pastries.
Italy’s wine appellations system:
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