Collio, Friuli, Italy

fruscalzoFruscalzo wines are produced on the slopes of the small, rustic commune of Ruttars in the Collio. The Fruscalzos came to Ruttars in 1950 and have been gradually building their business ever since. The Collio is a cool-climate area of wine production in north-east Italy, where the quality of wine has moved forward dramatically in the last 30 years. The climate favors white wines, and the Fruscalzos produce small quantities of both international varieties such as sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, pinot bianco, chardonnay, and cabernet sauvignon as well as cuvées from indigeneous grapes such as friulano (formerly called tokay), ribolla gialla, refosco, and verduzzo. Graziano (in the photo to the left) is the winemaker, Adriano works the vineyards, and Daniela does the sales and marketing.

The land around Ruttars is hilly and the vineyards nestle amongst woodland that leads down to streams running through picturesque valleys – it is a beautiful part of the world that retains the peacefulness of a less hurried era. At this domaine, many of the vines are old (forty years old at least), which brings extra body and complexity to the wines. These wines are hand-crafted and produced in fairly small quantities. The vineyards are treated with the respect they deserve – no herbicides or fertilizers are used, which leads to the improved health of the soil.

Harvests are done manually. All the white wines are vinified and aged in stainless steel to maintain the freshness of the fruit, the typicity of the different grape varieties, and to let the soil characteristics show through. The whites show attractively fresh, clean flavors, good body, and good complexity. While many will prefer the well-known international varieties, the indigeneous white varieties (friulano and ribolla gialla) are superb. The white wines are pleasurable drunk on their own as well as with food.

The Fruscalzos also produce red wines. Red wines from the Collio and nearby appellations bear some similarities to the red wines from the Loire Valley such as Bourgueil and Chinon – they’re fresh, easy-drinking wines, light to medium-bodied, and with modest levels of alcohol. The red wines are aged partly in stainless steel and partly in large old wood barrels – you never taste the wood on the wines, but it does help frame the fruit. These deliciously savory reds make superb food wines for those who prefer freshness and liveliness to large, lumbering, oaky, alcoholic wines. This is a ‘below the radar’ producer that Zambuni Wines is proud to introduce to America.

Wines available: Chardonnay, Cabernet FrancPinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Friulano, Cabernet SauvignonRefosco, Ribolla Gialla