By Aaron Winsor
Hello Prince Albert! It’s time to explore another unusual grape varietal and this week I took a taste of a grape called Refosco from Venezie (Venetia), Italy.
The refosco grape is actually part of a family of grapes often simply called Refrosci. Records indicate that this grape family has existed in various forms and regions since at least the 1600’s with some of the most well-known varieties hailing from the Venetian region of Italy.
This type of grape is known for its rich, dark fruit profile with higher acidity and ability to pair well with earthy or bitter foods like olives, salami and classic Italian dishes. For an exquisite pairing, search out some Tartufo salami which features black truffles and garlic spice. The sa-lami is earthy and savory which allows the wine to showcase its blend of rich fruit and high tannin content.
Speaking of tannins, refosco is known for its high astringency levels and consequently, it will often age well and smooth out nicely with cellar age. The bottle I tasted is from 2014 and the tannins were still very much present, if not mellowed out slightly with age. I wouldn’t have aged this bottle much more as the balance of tannins, acidity and the faintest note of balsamic vinegar indicate that the wine has reached its delicious peak.
The Grandarella Refosco is produced by the very recognizable Masi brand from Italy. This com-pany makes wines which are consistently well-made, even at the entry-level price point and their mid-priced wines are quite delicious and satisfying.
Masi often dries their grapes slightly before fermentation and maceration in a process called appassimento. This method creates flavors of concentrated fruit which lend a character of grace and age to the wine. Some of their more famous wines like Amarone are produced with heavily-dried grapes while their more common wines like Masianco, Campofiorin or the Grandarella feature partially dried grapes. This is reflected in the pricing as Amarone is easily $70 a bottle while the previously mentioned wines are around $20 to $35.
The refosco grape is difficult to find in Prince Albert and my sample was purchased in Saska-toon. While some hunting may be necessary for this wine, it is worth the search as I found the wine to be challenging and rewarding in equal measure.
Fans of fruit-forward wines will probably find this wine to be bitter and astringent but this is where a high quality charcuterie board will come in handy. Dried meats and bitter foods like olives and earthy cheeses will allow the wine to demonstrate its complexity and savory tones. Grab a bottle if you see one! Here are my wine picks of the week!
Chateau Deyrem Valentin 2010: (AOC Margaux, Bordeaux). Dry red, deep ruby color with brick-like colors at the edge. The bouquet is rich and complex with scents of black currants, raspber-ry, chopped almonds, deep woods, field berries, sweet licorice, plum pudding, cashews and cassis. The complexity carries over onto the palate with layers of medium-plus intense flavors: black/blue fruits, tilled soil, licorice, dusty cocoa, earthy dark chocolate, caramel, almond, barn-yard funk, Maduro tabacoo leaf, bramble berry and boysenberry. BBQ smoke, peppercorns and dark cocoa linger on the long finish. Medium-plus body with medium-plus acidity. High but smooth tannins are present which lend a velvety texture to the wine. Very good! Pair with steaks and mushrooms and a New World Maduro cigar from AJ Fernandez. $60, 14.5% ABV
Masi Grandarella Refosco 2014: (IGT Venezie, Italy). Dry red, deep ruby color. The nose is packed with rich dark fruit; blackberries, black currants, sagebrush, sweet soil, peppercorn, sa-vory balsamic and hints of grassy mustard seed. Dark fruits rush onto to palate (plum, blackber-ry black currant) followed by dark chocolate, nut shells and bittersweet chocolate (baker’s chocolate). The finish is long and complex featuring cocoa, truffles, tar/resin notes and some interesting umami notes. Tannins are high but elegant and the acidity has some medium-plus zip. This red is ideal for charcuterie like Tartufo salami, olives and earthy cheeses like Pecorino or Parmesan. Very good! $35, 14.5% ABV
Cheers and thanks for reading!