BRESSAN Sense & Sensibility

In real winemaking terms, we have not met many along the beaten path who wear their philosophy so comfortably as Fulvio Bressan.

Located in Farra d’Isonzo, an outpost of the Collio Goriziano, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, the BRESSAN winery is quite unique. In today’s tempestuous ocean of industrial quick fixes and short cuts, BRESSAN Mastri Vinai is a philosophical lighthouse, a beacon of Quality to help steer all ailing vinous sailors to shore.
No surprise that philosophy is one of their winemaking secrets.

A land before time forgot? Absolutely NOT, this is 2018!

And we’re very much in the REAL world. Everything at BRESSAN is REAL. You can touch it, taste it and feel it. There is a palpable Sense and Sensibility about everything they do.

As Fulvio drives us to check out the vineyards, a tractor pulls up alongside us. On board is Fulvio’s 86 year old dad, Nereo. With a ‘forever-to-be-treasured’ greeting, Nereo’s off again with lightning speed. It’s 11.00 am and he has already completed his 3 hour morning stint in the vineyard. As with all BRESSAN winery fermentations, Nereo’s youthful vigour is spontaneous and his energy positively infectious. Later back at the winery when we meet up again, he told us “Sure I’m as healthy as anything, why wouldn’t I keep working!” Chapeau Nereo!

Everything about the entire BRESSAN family is a welcome, refreshing and vital dose of reality. Meeting Fulvio, his wife Jelena, his parents Nereo & Paolina, his son Emanuele, uncle Sandro & cantina canine, Bobo, it is impossible not to be uplifted.

What the BRESSAN’s say and do makes perfect sense. From vineyard to cellar, they follow a clear, coherent line. Echoing integrity… integrity… integrity, you hear it on the wind.

It’s no surprise to discover that during his formative years, Fulvio studied in France, under the guidance of Professor Yves Glories from the legendary University of Bordeaux Oenology Department. He absorbed all that Glories imparted, explaining how he learned his role in the creative process is truly a supportive one. Fulvio structures his work so as to ensure that he does not interfere with, manipulate, force or spoil what Nature itself is kind enough to bestow on the family.

Today the BRESSAN winery is probably what the wine trade would call a ‘low interventionalist’.

Fulvio himself isn’t much bothered about all these media descriptors. He is solely focused on what BRESSAN does. Here in Farra d’Isonzo and the neigbouring townlands of Corona, everything they do is either totally HANDS-ON or totally HANDS-OFF.

In the vineyard, ‘IF’ and ‘ONLY IF’ the vineyard deems it necessary, Fulvio says only natural fertilisers from the barn may be employed. ALL chemical and synthetic products including pesticides and herbicides are banned. With all vines pruned to 4-5 buds, the BRESSAN vineyards are also farmed dry, as in, not irrigated. Fulvio pointed out that where their vineyards lie, it’s not far from the Isonzo river. Here the relatively poor gravel topped soil composition encourages vine roots to channel deep to find their life-saving water source. On this raised part of the Isonzo plain, at a depth of 5 metres, it’s a nutrient rich, stress free zone. The vines simply love it. Fulvio emphasized how dry farming is essential for any grower who wants to maintain the authentic wealth and intensity of the grapes aromatic profile. Recognising the value of his vineyard locations, you begin to understand why BRESSAN wines are uniquely BRESSAN.

As a curious footnote to the dry farming topic, although Friuli is considered Italy’s wettest region, in recent years we’ve begun to observe the introduction of vineyard irrigation drip systems in both low and high ground locations. Used for emergencies to combat issues associated with increasingly common summer droughts, it suggests that climate change is a real and growing concern in these parts.

BRESSAN isn’t certified as Organic or Biologic.

But they could easily be, when you take account of the intensive care they apply in their daily practices. And that’s it, they CARE. They REALLY CARE. It’s unquestionable. Clearly defined, Fulvio pointed out that if fruit quality is not up-to-scratch, the grapes simply won’t make it to the cellar. As if proof were needed, he outlined how and when multiple vintages were indeed passed over.

Our exposure to the ‘BRESSAN way’ brought us to reflect.

In the main regarding the market approach of largescale corporate winemakers. They themselves will surely accept that by their size & nature, their’s has become much more of a ‘manufacturing process’ and much less of a creative one. The mass market is a battlefield driven by big numbers. Large customers demanding large quantities in a double quick time. WINE is now such a fast moving business sector, that it regrettably appears unable to take the necessary time to consider the REAL impact of its decision-making. Let’s emphasize ‘decision-making’ rather than ‘winemaking’. The weight of ‘decision-making’ pressures industrial minds into ‘action’, the efficient use of resources, time and money saving measures. More often than not, such measures regrettably create not-so-friendly environmental consequences, in the vineyard and the cellar. One shudders thinking of some of the allowable synthetic ‘corrections & additions’ that are still used to produce what on labels is still referred to as WINE. Reflecting on the thriving ‘natural’ debate, the discussion is surely moving to ‘what is best for us all, what is healthy and what is right for our environment’. And the natural point of view is increasingly compelling. In Europe, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when the EU finally brings wine ‘ingredient’ labeling to the top of their agenda.

We imagine it will be warmly welcomed by consumers.

And also by the majority of producers, especially those who now find themselves immersed in the ‘natural’ wine movement. A natural, raw phenomenon, it is born out of a ‘people-powered’ desire to both create and consume real, artisan produce. Shared values. Real values. Human and environmental values.

Isabelle Legeron MW, founder of RAW WINE, offers a clear interpretation of Natural Wine in terms of “being farmed organically (biodynamically, using permaculture or the like) and made (or rather transformed) without adding or removing anything in the cellar. No additives or processing aids are used, and ‘intervention’ in the naturally occurring fermentation process is kept to a minimum. As such neither fining nor (tight) filtration are used. The result is a living wine – wholesome and full of naturally occurring microbiology.”

Industrial winemaking interests may continue struggling to agree with it but there is no escaping it. Here in Italy, the growing diffusion of this wine story, through word-of-mouth, has certainly found courage in the global success of long standing movements like SLOW FOOD. Press, magazine & blog column inches are progressively dedicated to the open discussion about ‘Natural / Organic / Biologic / Biodynamic / Raw / Real’ wines, wines being created by nature focused, quality driven winemakers. Winemakers just like BRESSAN. While their individual approaches may differ, all of these craftspeople have one thing in common. Their’s is not a mere fashion statement. It is a Philosophical one, fulfilling a REAL existing demand. A demand that is growing fast, and get this, a demand which is CONSUMER led. Like a rolling stone, the economic tables are turning.

Afterall, winemakers like BRESSAN are consumers too.

The Quality of Produce they buy for their own consumption is EQUAL to the Quality of Produce they themselves create and sell for other peoples Quality consumption. Without diving into Deep Economics, this is what we choose to call a PURE QUALITY SUPPLY CHAIN. Quality begets Quality. It makes complete sense. They live it, they work it, they create it, they sell it, they buy it, they consume it.
RAD!

Yes, adhering to such a philosophy naturally involves some hellish hard work. But at BRESSAN, this is the necessary effort that Fulvio, Jelena, Nereo and Paolina firmly believe in. Fulvio’s & Nereo’s work on the Isonzo plain is visionary.

Their ethic underlines the fact that there is absolutely no short cut to Excellence.

To achieve Excellence, more than anything else, you need ‘Patience and Time’… ironically, two prized ingredients that many corporate thinkers sadly cannot bring themselves to buy.

EXPECTATIONS – BRESSAN – TASTING EXCELLENCE

Verduzzo 2013 IGP Venezia Giulia

Intense yellow gold with a profusion of wild floral and stone fruit notes. Dry and fullsome, Verduzzo Friulano’s signature tannic bite manifests itself in this white wine dream. Let’s repeat the word DRY. While the majority of Verduzzo produced in Friuli is harvested late for producing unctuous dessert wines, like in Ramandolo DOCG, the BRESSAN Verduzzo is stunningly dry. 48 hour skin contact lends itself to long-lasting identifiable impressions. An absolute joy.

Carat 2012 IGP Venezia Giulia

Fine amber core spins to antique gold on the rim. A truly ‘beautiful’ perfumed nose. Honeysuckle and mimosa aromatic powder puff, creamy crushed nut, apricot & orange rind rub. Oh so subtle. Filo upon filo, this is the essense of savoir faire. The palate is sublime. Medium bodied, smooth structured mineral foundation with wafer thin veils of honey & caramel, layered on ripe peach & apricot flesh and a feint dusting of mixed sweet spice. Quintessential classic – traditional/native grape blend of Tocai Friulano, Malvasia Istriana & Ribolla Gialla. Entirely consumed before our very eyes.

Schioppettino 2012 IGP Venezia Giulia

Luminous time capsule, ruby core slides to a lightly veiled garnet rim. Spending 2 hours in apnea (that’s us!), a multi-story cornucopia of complex vapors will reveal themselves unto you. Going well beyond the tertiary floor, this creation is an escalator to take you there. Palate precision and balance. A fresh tight embrace that will test your metal. Yet don’t panic. Yes, this is incisive, ferrous ‘jus’, combining tension & pleasure in equal & increasing measure. Just don’t rush ‘the rush’. We recommend you seek out this wine and enjoy it’s Earthly Exuberance, Intrigue and Other Worldliness… just as we have!

PIGNOL 2001 IGP Venezia Giulia

Pale garnet / brick. Complexity with a refined elegance. On the palate it’s broody and taut, fresh, mineral rich with fine tannic action. Very earthy and evolved with notes of leather, a pot pourri of dried leaves, herbs and spice. Intense and persistent, the structure will certainly assist the V01 to take further steps. That said, as a mature 17 year old, we’d suggest now is also a good time to think of a liberating experience.

PIGNOL 2004 IGP Venezia Giulia (NEW Release 2018)

Both Radical & Youthful, absolutely defying its already 14 years. An eye-catching ruby diamond that spins to a pale garnet rim. Woodland, mushroom, herbal vapours, black currants & berries expand into an olfactory horizon with open skies. Stunning balance and harmony. It feels energetic and fresh, a dose of instant karma, ultra-smooth fine grained tannins playing off subtle savoury, fruit n’ spice. Every enigmatic component feels refined to its very essence. Noble imprinting. Commanding, composed, eternal. Created to last for a lifetime.

PIGNOL 1997 IGP Venezia Giulia (Barrel Sampling) – NEW Release 2018 TBC

A single teleporting sip to Terminal Velocity. A flawless, energetic life-force, this PIGNOLO in purezza will forever rank as one of our single greatest wine tasting experiences, ever. A 20 year old barrel-aged native Friulano red, pinch yourself, this wine is nothing less than magnificent, per eccellenza or par excellence. One mans visionary experiment that surpasses all celestial expectations. It’s a multi-tiered evolutionary wine at whose incredible heart you’ll still find primary fresh dark berry notes. Proof positive of BRESSAN & PIGNOLO’s greatness. Regal Imprinting. Unforgettable. Release is scheduled for a date March/April 2018 – Only 1,000 Magnums will be released. Reservations accepted directly by the winery. HURRY. HURRY!!! NOW!!!

PIGNOL BRESSAN

With an average diameter of 1cm and an average weight of 1gram, PIGNOLO is a character-fuelled, bloomed blue/black grape native to Friuli. As a designer of evolutionary reds, Fulvio’s approach to making his ‘PIGNOL’ is like no other. Together they have come to understand each others measure. In the same way any fine tailor would understand the ideal cut for his client. In the vineyard, PIGNOLO is the ‘Sarto of Friuli’. In the right hands, this grape can produce eclipsing wines. Fulvio Bressan confirms this beyond any doubt with the new release of his PIGNOL 2004 and the April 2018 special ‘MAGNUM’ release of his groundbreaking, 20 year old, barrel aged PIGNOL 1997. A vision, a design for life and living, patience, resolve, courage. We defy anyone to taste these wines and not be exhilarated.

Illustrating the importance and the rarity of the two new releases, Fulvio revealed to us how for the five vintages 2005-2009, the BRESSAN winery did not produce their PIGNOL. Fulvio described how the grapes in each vintage lacked the fruit profile and aromatic quality that experience tells him is necessary to create a ‘great’ PIGNOL. And the BRESSAN rule is straightforward, if they can’t create a great PIGNOL, they won’t create an average one. For all of you who seek the true majesty of PIGNOLO, we assure you, by tasting BRESSAN’s PIGNOL 2004 & PIGNOL 1997, you will be emphatically enlightened.

Suffice to say our time spent with Fulvio, Jelena and family has been an Emotional, Eye-Opening and Mind-Bending Trip, underlining how a seriously caring approach can simultaneously ‘create and effect’ real change. And yeah, it really helps if you genuinely love what you do!

Wholly energised & enriched…

This has been a real-time reflection on when we met with real winemaker… FULVIO BRESSAN

Chapeau Fulvio, TOTAL RESPECT to you, Jelena and all the family. Quality is eternal…

Speaking of which, Neil Hannon & THE DIVINE COMEDY

THE DIVINE COMEDY – Love what you do

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