I am about to sent the Valpanera offer out to our email newsletter list, this is just a little more information on Refosco.
Refosco is an ancient dark-skinned red grape found in the Friuli (Italy), western Slovenia and the Istria (Croatia).
Historically it was used to make simple table wines, but new ideas and a resurgence of interest in local vines has unlocked some of the potential of the vine to producer finer and more age-worthy wines. It is a late harvesting vine and when picked too early it has a tendency to produce wines with some harsh green tannin and fiesty acidity, however it is a robust and well acclimatised vine so picking it at full ripeness is not a huge risk.
Typically the wines are darkly coloured, often green herb and violet on the nose with dark damson to brambly fruit with a touch of black pepper and mineral stoniness. Alcohol is rarely much over 12% and the acidity freshens the mouth in preparation for more cheese, duck, whatever takes your fancy – it is lovely chilled with some fresh-landed sea fish (great simple little restaurant in Grado, owned by fishermen – I’ll get the name from Giovanni).
Over the centuries the family has extended into some distinct groups; Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso is widely regarded as the best, the Peduncolo Rosso refers to the stem holding the grapes which is redish in colour. The green-stemmed editions tend to be found in the Carso, Veneto and Romagna, they are perhaps a little more ink and violet and less bramble and cherry. I am a fan of Teranno from the Carso, but in truth I only drink it when I am there, it is no crowd pleaser.
There is little doubt that Refosco has been planted in the Friuli for more than two thousand years, it is widely believed that Augustus Caesar’s wife Livia swore by its life giving qualities, I think this is unlikely and that the ‘peccinum’ she referred to was probably a sweet wine made from Glera (Prosecco). Pliny the Elder included the vine in his first century encyclopaedia Naturalis Historia, describing its northern Adriatic origins explicitly. Perhaps the finest referee for the vine is Giacomo Casanova who mentions it in his memoirs
‘… His refosco, which was even better than my devout hostess’s had been, made me forget all my troubles. …:’
‘… good woman served a delightful meal of excellent fish dressed with olive oil and gave us some Refosco to drink that I found quite exquisite’ G.Casanova (1725-1798)’
There are also the Habsburgs, it is said that they loved the wines of Refosco, Malvasia Istriana and Teran enough to build a railway from Trieste to Poreč which was is often called ‘the wine railway’.
Clones and Synonyms
Refosco dal Pedulcolo Roso
Refosco dal pecol rosso
Refosco dal Peduncolo Verde
Refosco di Faedis (said to be the mother vine)
Cagnina (The name used in Romangna)
Refosk (Usual name used in Slovenia/Croatia)
Mondeuse (Savoie region of France) is widely believed to be Refosco, I have read that DNA test refute this.
Also listed by Snooth, I haven’t definitive confirmation one was or another
Crabb’s Black Burgandy