We recently stopped by the Elvio Zani Winery in Faedis, to meet with Claudio Zani, to chat a little more about Refosco di Faedis and also to check out his winery’s ‘thriving’ 120 year old ‘Vigneto Storico’ vineyard.
Cradled by the Colli Orientali’s eocenic foothills here everything is overlooked by the awesome Julian Alps, which loom large behind. And it was from Zani’s Vigneto Storico that the Refosco di Faedis VCR5 clone was identified, cultured and grafted with the regional collaborative efforts of ERSA & the Rauscedo grapevine nursery.
As it happens, on the way, we bumped into Flavia Di Gaspero of the Di Gaspero Winery, who also took time out to join us on the field trip. As two key members of the Associazione Volontari Viticoltori del Refosco di Faedis (AVVRdF), Flavia (President) and Claudio (Vice President), demonstrate a rare vocation to the cultivation of this lesser known red grape.
Officially registered as Refosco Nostrano (aka Refoscone), over the course of the past two decades, Refosco di Faedis as we now know it, has grown to become the oenological symbol of the town. Far from being a matter of chance, it’s entirely down to the tenacity and determination of all the associations members.
Formed in 1998, the association features the combined efforts of 10 local winemakers – Di Gaspero, Zani, Perabo’, Macor, Mosolo, Celledoni, Ronc dai Luchis, Accordini, De Luca and Vigne delle Beccacce.
As it was on day one, the association continues to be as active as ever in its quest to value and promote this erstwhile neglected ‘rosso’. The foundations of their work are underpinned by a shared sense of responsibility for the survival of this vine. Indeed having become part of the townland’s beating social and economic heart, it’s a sense that the town’s people equally hold too.
Yet the association already understood that, while recognition from your peers is one thing, customer recognition is another matter. As one of Friuli’s many high quality native reds, one senses many may still consider Refosco di Faedis as well ‘the youthful red for early consumption’. A kind of daily red, a ‘vino quotidiano’ as they might call it here. And there’s no denying that it ticks that box with tasteful ease.
But who better to know the full structural potential of their ‘Refosco’ than the producers themselves. And so from the early days, the association set about creating a unique programme of evaluation that would lead to their very own ‘Reserve’ discipline. It requires at least 24 months oak-aging (barrel size is optional) followed by 6 months in the bottle before it can be released to the market.
Of course, not every vintage offers the potential for a Reserve, so the learning curve is both steep and long. It requires continuous interaction between members with regular monitoring of vineyard management and wine-making programs. But clearly, built on shared interest, they are rising to the challenge.
Here’s what we found tasting a couple of 5 year old Reserves from 2012 back-to-back with a 10 year old 2007:
Di Gaspero – Refosco di Faedis Riserva 2012 – FCO DOC
Medium intensity ruby.
Floral perfumed talc with forest berry & plum notes
Confident, fresh, medium body, light tannin, lovely harmonic, smooth balance, black berried fruits, a tincture of blood orange and a sprinkling of spice that advocates increasing complexity. This structure will go another 5 years, without doubt. To taste it again in 2022 would be a treat.
Elvio Zani – Refosco di Faedis Riserva 2012 – FCO DOC
Medium ruby crimson to emerging garnet rim
Shy nose that again is predominantly floral, pefumed soap dish garnished with a slice of red skinned plum
Lovely balanced palate, nicely structured, medium+ body with acidity & tannins harmonious and integrated. Soft fruit, pleasurable concentration, red plum & raspberry, mature strawberry, dusting of minerals, white pepper & spice, elegant with emerging herbal vapours. Working on every level, deliciously fresh, rotund and persistent. 5 years down, 5 more ahead. 2022 here we come.
Elvio Zani – Refosco Nostrano* 2007 IGT Delle Venezie
Striking colour stability after 10 years. Luminous light ruby core to a feint garnet rim. Very Pinot-esque.
With the passing years, naturally a little closed on first opening. But when it blooms, its floral tones, delicate fruit and incense are to say the least, enchanting.
Mid-weight, fresh, delicate, refined, seamless structured expression. An initial youthful salute to rose & strawberry segways quickly to more complex savory elements as it opens. Very subtle performance, so nimble and nuanced. At 10 years old this reserve is a very worthy wine. The vintage has reached maturity, but it’s by no means a spent force. Not yet. What more might it offer at 15 ?? Only one way to find out. 2022 once again.
*Note the fact that pre-2011, the bottle label couldn’t carry the name Refosco di Faedis and it wasn’t yet recognised by the DOC.
But as it happens, we also tasted a selection of three 2013 Reserves from producers Perabo’, Zani and Di Gaspero. Again with consistently high quality across all three, clearly the 2013 vintage was a high performance year. Structural qualities confirm our opinion that these too will be tasting very well for the next 5-6 years. So make sure to add the V13’s to your bucket list.
And as it currently stands, that which we know, it’s genetically unrelated to any other Refosco group member.
Most outstanding feature ? For us it’s gotta be those enduring floral notes and the potential it offers for subtle nuanced complexity as it ages.
No doubt about it… Refosco di Faedis has Plenty in Reserve!!
Taking a Stand in the place where they live, check out all it’s producers here:
REFOSCO DI FAEDIS