Friday, December 2, 2011

Schioppettino di Prepotto, the variety brought back from the dead

"I unreservedly recommend the wines of Schioppettino di Prepotto.  High-quality, fresh, food-craving wines of great consistency." Thus did I tweet on October 27, 2011, after reflecting on a tasting of seven Schioppettino wines with the Association Produttori Schioppettino di Prepotto at Ristorante Al Monastero in Cividale del Friuli on October 10, 2011.  And that is still my position today.

The Schioppettino grape -- also known as Ribolla Nera and Pokalça -- is native to the Prepotto commune of the Cialla zone of Colli Orientali del Friuli but is currently grown in other Friuli-Venezia Giulia communes (Buttrio and Manzano, for example) and in Sonoma County in the US.  Prepotto occupies a 30-square-kilometer area in the Judrio River Valley and shares a border with Slovenia.

Source: Associazione Produttori Schioppettino di Prepotto
The Prepotto climate varies between Mediterranean and continental but experiences significant temperature differentials between day and night which contributes to the aromas and flavors of the wine.  The dry wind that blows along the river valley serves as a preventative against rot.  The soil is alluvial marl and sandstone covered by a thin layer of clay or gravel.

Schioppettino, a late-ripening variety: is blue-black in color; is thick-skinned; grows in long, large, winged bunches;  has a predilection for clayey, calcium-carbonate-enriched soils; and has a low tolerance for common vineyard diseases.

Like Lazarus, Schioppettino was raised from the dead.  References stretch as far back as 1282 but the variety fell victim to the ravages of phylloxera and then competition from international varieties.  By the 1960s, less than 100 Schioppettino vines were in existence and it was banned as an illegal variety.  Then along came Sig Pancho Rapazzi.  He founded a vineyard in Ciallo in the late 1960s and sought out every Schioppettiano vine that he could find to plant on his estate.  His efforts paid off when the Prepotto local council met in 1977 and one of the agenda items was "defense of Schiopettino at risk of extinction." The EEC regulation in 1978 added Schioppettino to the vine species authorized for cultivation in the province of Udine and the variety was listed as authorized in 1981.  The 1983 EEC regulation -- EEC 3582/83 -- included Schioppettino among the recommended varieties for the province of Udine.  DOC status was attained in 1987.  The producer association was formed in 2002 and its efforts led to the designation of the subzone Schioppettino di Prepotto in 2008.  The association's production requirements are indicated below.

After leaving the Bastianich Winery tasting, we headed into Cividade for a walking tour of the city and a Schioppettino tasting with the regional producers.  It was raining when we got into town so @aleskimethonen, a second blogger, and I found a small wine shop in which to hang out until lunchtime.  We arrived at the restaurant where the tasting was to be held at the same time as our larger group but were drier and in better spirits.  We entered the front section of the restaurant and then were led through a courtyard to a second section where tables had been set up in a u-shaped fashion to support the tasting.

As soon as we were all seated, they began to pour the wines.  While the wines were being poured the President of the Association welcomed us to Cividale and Prepotto.  As the wines were being poured I was struck by the intensity of the color.  I tasted the first four wines and was struck by the consistency of aromas and flavors with the only distinguishing characteristic being increasing weight on the palate as I went from right to left.  On the nose, blackberries, violets, and some spice.  On the palate medium-bodied and fresh with good extension on the finish.  I liked this wine.  Then they brought out the meal, which was capped with a wild boar offering,  and the wines truly excelled in this environment.

The wines tasted at this event were Stanig 2009, Grillo 2008, Pizzulin 2008, Vigna Lenuzza 2008, Vigna Petrussa 2008, La Buse dal Lof 2007, and La Viarte 2007.

"I unreservedly recommend the wines of Schioppettino di Prepotto. High-quality, fresh, food-craving wines of great consistency."


  1. Many thanks Mr. Edwards. It was really a pleasure to host you here in Friuli. Your words are really appreciated....keep in touch with Friuli and with Schioppettino di Prepotto as well!!!! Federica Felice/ La Viarte

  2. It was a pleasure visiting your region. Loved the wines and the hospitality.