It’s February 2018 and our little Red Fiat 500 is battling its way through the wet n’ windy wilds of Friuli’s eastern hills to catch up with the youthful team behind the Vigna LENUZZA winery in Prepotto.
Daniele Lenuzza and his wife Tanika are what we’d call “Future People”
…Energetic, Imaginative, Conscientious, Forward-thinking, Fun-to-be-with “Future People”.
He is also the 3rd generation of the Lenuzza family to take the helm of their Prepotto based winery. Founded by his grandfather in 1954, it was with the added energy of his father, Gian Paolo, that the winery began to take its first steps toward growth. Today, with 11 hectares of vineyards to be tended, Daniele remembers well his own first steps with Gian Paolo in the vineyard.
No surprise when he told the family that winemaking was going to become his life’s vocation. With an astute eye cast toward the future, and with his oenology qualification tucked into his back pocket, Daniele enthusiastically turned to travel to expand his knowledge horizon. A journey including winemaking stints in Australia and South Africa, it was during his time working in the latter, that he met with his now wife, Tanika Paris.
With “Prepotto Calling”, it was impossible to resist the lure and soon the couple were on their way back to the home of SCHIOPPETTINO.
If you ever get the chance to pick these grapes from a ripe bunch, don’t turn it down. It is an unforgettable sensorial encounter. That beautiful ‘crisp, cracking, juicy, crunch’ between your teeth. Yes folks, it is a wine grape. But it really does double-up as a super munching table-topper too. When ripe, its well bloomed, medium thin blue/black skin is increasingly pulled taut by the pressure of the sweet swelling pulp. Break through that skin, with it’s audible crack, and it’s clear why locals christened it SCHIOPPETTINO, the name apparently deriving from the Italian verb scoppiettare, meaning to crackle. You may well hear various other explanations bouncing around as to where the name comes from. But take it from us, the ‘cracking crunch’ is the one that wins.
The known history dates back to the 1200’s but in reality we must be talking thousands of years of growth around its natural home, the townlands of Prepotto, Albana and Cialla. As we so often discover, SCHIOPPETTINO is yet another local variety that fell victim to ‘imported’ disease (phylloxera & mildew), to war and most recently, to an acute case of commercial and cultural blindness. By the beginning of 1970’s it was almost extinct. Indeed were it not for the courageous efforts of the Rapuzzi family it may not have survived. In their Cialla vineyard they pioneered the recovery and first replantings of newly grafted vines. Their 1977 vintage, their first bottle release, surely turned the tide in Schioppettino’s favour.
Fast forward 40 years and today Vigna Lenuzza is one of 22 proud producers whose label carries the unique designation Schioppettino di Prepotto. Created in 2011, this new ‘sottozona’ discipline lays out the path to quality, which all associate producers must follow in order to attain this special Friuli Colli Orientali DOP classification.
Quality SCHIOPPETTINO is at the very heart of Vigna Lenuzza’s new vision. In 2014 Daniele took the decision to begin switching their vineyard management programme to a fully certified biologic model. Applying an integrated, holistic approach, Daniele’s new 5 year plan is focused on bringing his 25 year old Schioppettino vines to their fullest potential. And the great news for 2018 is that BIO certification has now been achieved.
Bottled in 2017, this youthful medium ruby spins to a delicate magenta on the rim.
A nose of finespun florals and soft red fruits including wild strawberry & cherry.
Well structured, the medium body is fit and happily punching above its weight. Fresh acidity and supple tannins add charm to the playful nature of fruit & spice. Right now, think juicy strawberry & black pepper with the added promise of emerging elegance.
We recommend you go for minimum two bottles, one for now & the other for your ‘evolutionary stash’!!
We adjourned to the nearby warmth of Prepotto’s famous ENOTECA dello SCHIOPPETTINO to continue our heart-to-heart about this native reds truly great prospects. Understandibly many wonder filled hours passed. Afterall SCHIOPPETTINO has a heck of a lot going for it, not least of which is the vitality and enterprising get-up-and-go of Vigna LENUZZA’s dynamic duo!
…just like all inspiring
Speaking of which, ALABAMA SHAKES :)