Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Colli Orientali del Friuli: Field Report

The field at Miani in Buttrio. I nearly tripped on the stones that covered the yard and the fields. The wines are immense, like the winemaker. The cellar, only 79 barrels (a little more than Chateau Le Pin), is colder than the outdoors. When garagiste Enzo Pontoni tells me the wines are more about the place (Buttrio) I think back almost a year when a winemaker took me out from his winery in Abruzzo and tasted the Montepulciano in the vineyard. Here, as well, I would like to do that. Out of the garage and back into the fields

Mother of winemaker Pontoni with Christian Patat of Ronco del Gnemiz chatting in Friulan
His mother is animated, very direct in her Friulian language and her naturalness with expressing herself simply and clearly. The wines too are very direct though not too simple. They are big wines; I am transported back 20+ years when Colli Orientali was asserting itself on the world stage. Now Colli Orientali is no longer a child, but a young person, full of energy and spunk. There are a few wine lovers in Dallas who would love these wines with their hearty Western fare.

Early this morning Nico and David and I went out to a butcher shop in the hills, to see the old traditional ways that they use to butcher a pig. It was an emotional moment for me and Nico but it gave us a look into this world apart from the wine. Nothing was wasted in the creature and immense respect for the animal I could feel by Eugenio Butussi and his assistant when the pig was transformed from a living creature into food. We ate a little of the salumi from another creature that had been butchered weeks earlier, along with a stout demijohn of Tocai at 10 AM.

One of our many gracious hosts, Filippo Butussi, took us by a field that had just been plowed for the corn planting. The campo, where once a fornaio stood in Roman times, was littered with terra cotta and pieces of amphorae 2000 years old. I never tire of walking in ancient dirt, digging up old clay pieces from lifetimes ago.

After our last tasting, back to the Il Roncal agriturismo and winery for a chat with the winemaker, Stefano Salvini and the proprietress Martina Moreale. There is another story there for another time, but the time we live in, 2011, even now, for a woman in a traditional place is challenging.

Lastly, I would have loved to spend an evening cracking walnuts and drinking red wine with I Clivi's Ferdinando Zanusso, who truly is one of the most interesting men in the world. His lives in Africa and traveling the world, working for the UN, to come home and make intense wines from fields of old vine organic grapes. Another story I do want to tell.


nico said...

Alfonso, i am absolutely in love with that photo of christian and the mother. i was too late trying to get that same photo, you fucking nailed it and caught the moment perfectly...

David McDuff said...

Much as Nicolas said but with reference to another of your shots... great work capturing the spirit and intensity of Signore Zanusso.

Rossella said...

Me too are in love with the picture of the mother.
Thanks for your report and to tell about my region in so special way.

Anonymous said...

Ferdinando Zanusso is a class act. But is his son Mario le foie haché? Both very cool guys.

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