Ronchi di Cialla Schioppettino 2016


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“Dark and inward, the 2016 Schioppettino di Cialla is heady with its spicy mix of rosebuds, wild strawberries, smoke and cracked pepper. This is soft and cool-toned in style, holding its power in reserve, with tart red and black berries tinged with saline-minerals that give way to pretty inner florals. Residual acids keep the expression fresh through the finale while remaining perfumed and lightly structured. This is a vertical and remarkably finessed expression of Schioppettino di Cialla that is currently showing very well, yet also with the capacity to mature for decades. Bravo. Drinking window: 2023-2036. 94+ points

Cialla is located in the eastern reaches of Friuli Colli Orientali, yet it is quite unique from the surrounding areas, as valleys run deep between its forested higher elevations, and vineyards can be found like a patchwork strewn throughout. If there was only one producer that you could ever taste the wines of from this zone, it would have to be Ronchi di Cialla. Their winery sits atop a hill of vines, like a mirage in a desert. It was here that the now-deceased Paolo Rapuzzi and his wife, Dina, had the passion and insights to save the Schioppettino variety from near extinction, a story that my predecessor told very well in his article, “Ronchi di Cialla’s Schioppettino di Cialla: 1982-2010” in June of 2017. Along with saving Schioppettino, they also proved the importance of the variety, as today it is truly one of the most interesting and age-worthy reds being produced in Friuli. However, in my opinion, Ronchi di Cialla’s Schioppettino remains the best. While at the estate, I was able to taste with Ivan Rapuzzi, the current-generation winemaker, and taste both new vintages and old. One of the highlights of this property is their regular release of library wines, both red and white, as well as the reasonable prices attached to them. These wines mature amazingly well, evidenced by my experience with the 1996 and 1984 Schioppettino di Cialla, as well as the 1998 Ciallabianco (a blend of Ribolla Gialla, Picolit and Verduzzo). Ivan Rapuzzi runs the winery with his mother and brother, and the family has chosen to change nothing about the traditional wines of the estate, but to only add some fresher expressions to the lineup, such as the zesty Ciallarosso, a blend of Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Schioppettino. This is not just a historic winery, but also a historic family. The wines that they are producing today deserve serious consideration.

Eric Guido, Vinous (04/22)