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 here, close to the slopes of the regions eastern hills (‘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 thick skinned, hanging in relatively loose conical bunches. With a dense bloom, locally this vine is considered to offer good disease / fungal resistance.
Yet, following the ravages of phylloxera in the late 1880’s and the increasing presence of powdery & downy mildew, it’s interesting therefore that Tazzelenghe was forbidden to be planted. Preference was instead given to the French varieties, in particular Merlot. Back then perhaps commercial pressures and market demands were at the root of it all. Either way Tacelenghe (as its also known locally) fell out of favour with growers. Almost 4 decades since its legal status was reinstated, thanks to a small handful of producers, who remain prepared to buck market trends, we can once again access this truly unique Friulian red wine experience.
On the nose it offers Amarena Bitter Cherry, Redcurrant, Mulberry, Earthy Tobacco Leaf and subtle Balsamic notes
On the Palate, it’s Dry and full Bodied. With relatively High Acidity and prominent tannins it delivers an intense mouth experience that cuts quickly and cleanly across the palate making it lively and long lasting.
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.