An outlaw until 1978, Tazzelenghe was almost completely lost to Bacchus until changes in Italian regional law allowed it to once again be officially grown in Friuli’s vineyard. And it’s close to the slopes of the regions eastern hills (known as the ‘Colli Orientali’) , that its native home is considered to be the hinterland around the town of Buttrio, a short distance from the area’s principal city of UDINE.
Characteristic of this vine, Tazzelenghe’s medium to large ‘intensely blue/violet’ grapes are round and relatively thick skinned that hang in relatively loosely-packed, conical bunches. With its dense bloom, this vine is considered to offer good disease / fungal resistance.
Yet, following the ravages of powdery mildew, phylloxera and downy mildew, by the late 1880’s it notably fell out of favour. Preference was instead given to the newly arriving French varieties, in particular Merlot.
Commercial pressures and market demands were at the root of it all. Either way by the beginning of the 1970’s, Tacelenghe (as its also known locally), reached the point where it was even officially forbidden to be planted.
Almost 45 years since its legal reinstatement, thanks to a small handful of producers who continue to buck market trends, we can once again access this truly unique Friulian red wine experience.
In youth you’ll find a rich Ruby, while with middle age expect you can expect a more Garnet or Brick Red wine.
On the nose the dominant primary notes are Amarena Cherry, Redcurrant, Mulberry, while with age expect more Earth, Tobacco Leaf and increasingly complex balsamic tones.
The Palate is dry and generally full-bodied. With relatively high acidity it delivers an intense mouth experience that cuts quickly and cleanly across the palate making this a lively, vertical and persistent taste experience.
Drunk young it can be pretty astringent stuff. That’s why it tends to be given time to age and mature in large wooden vats for anything up to 3 years, followed by bottle ageing. The softening of the tannins married with good fruit concentration ultimately lead to its unique feel and appeal.
All of which reminds us of another vintage classic whose first cut is the deepest.