Like you, sure we were aware of the great French & Hungarian sweet wines but somehow they just never clicked with us. Maybe the Chateau d’Yquem price point had something to do with it. In any case, the epiphany, the absolute game changer, came with our first tasting of the prestigious golden nectar from Friuli’s Native King – PICOLIT.
And first impressions last. For many of us today, this native Friulian white grape variety will be something new. But centuries back, and in particular during the 18th / 19th century, PICOLIT was seriously sought after. Its absolute rarity in the market, coupled with the grand acclaim and demand from the royal palaces and courts of Europe underpinned its status.
As vines go, PICOLIT a vigourous grower. Yet contrary to this, when it comes to bearing fruit, it yields incredibly low volumes of translucent golden, often bronzed berries, bronzed where the grapes get more exposure to the sun.
This scarceness of crop is due to a host of physiological issues. Like all flowering vines, the PICOLIT flower is hermaphroditic, containing both male and female parts. However it is considered physiologically ‘more’ female. Why ? Well the stamen (the male part) is much shorter than the stigma (the female part). And it’s bent backward towards the base of the flower, making fertilisation more difficult.
In addition to this, it’s also known to often produce pollen that is sterile. Even if and when it gets passed the flowering stage, there is the further possibility that PICOLIT may suffer a spontaneous ‘partial’ floral abortion. You can see where this is going. The combined effect of all these conditions regularly results in a significant number of the vines not blossoming at all. So what producers can be left with are sparse bunches with an average of 15-30 small sweet grapes per bunch. Not a lot, right. It seems Mother Nature is determined to maintain this gems rarity.
By no means has it been a smooth road for PICOLIT. Indeed when one couples all of its natural physiological drawbacks with the destructive effects of’phylloxera’ in the late 1860-80’s, it’s hardly surprising that PICOLIT’s reign as one of Europe’s finest sweet wines was very nearly ended.
Identity is everything in Friuli and the PICOLIT grape is uniquely representative of them and their endeavours. Indeed such endeavour was rewarded in 2006, when PICOLIT earned its DOCG classification, the highest quality standard in Italian winemaking. Once again ranked amongst the most prestigious and prized wines of Italy, it’s a symphony of taste.
In appearance PICOLIT is truly golden, often with rich amber and/or red copper tones.
On the nose, it’s intense, complex and elegant with pronounced notes of honey, dried apricots, dried figs, orange peel, raisins, chesnuts and floral blossom, particularly acacia.
On the palate it is sweet, velvety and sophisticated. Its relatively high acidity is harmoniously balanced with a beautifully delicate medium to full body. While the attack is initially sweet, in the company of such freshness, the aromas are swiftly amplified leading to a persistent, elegantly smooth and surprisingly dry finish. In the best examples, it is nothing short of symphonic.
This description, given to us by one such passionate friulano, sums it up really. Pretty much just how we feel watching Neil Youngs first live performance of ‘Heart of Gold’. Gold – yellow, red, white, antique or plain old, is always GOLD. You’re search can momentarily rest a while here. ENJOY PICOLIT and NEIL YOUNG responsibly….in company, or simply on their own.