Have you heard of Pignolo? I hadn’t until recently – when I tasted the wine below) – though I since spotted it in one of my friend Cara Rutherford’s posts. Now I could be forgiven for this as I’m no expert on Italian wines, though Pignolo does feature as one of Jancis, Julia and José’s 1,368 Wine Grapes. However, it nearly disappeared after its native Friuli was ravaged by phylloxera over a century ago, and it was forgotten about; low yielding vines and susceptibility to powdery mildew put it at a disadvantage when it came to replanting.
Fast forward to the 1970s and Pignolo vines were found (on their own rootstocks) at the Abbey of Rosazzo. Cuttings were taken from these hundred plus year old vines and a new vineyard planted by Girolamo Dorigo (no relation to the former England footballer Tony Dorigo, to the best of my knowledge). Other producers in Friuli have since planted Pignolo so that a tiny 20 hectares in 2000 had grown to (a still modest) 93 hectares in 2010 (let’s not ask about 2020 just yet!)
I had the opportunity to taste Dorigo’s Pignolo earlier this year and I was astounded at its expressiveness and quality:
Dorigo Friuli Colli Orientali Pignolo 2015
On pouring it shows a medium intensity, more red than black, and a lighter garnet towards the rim.
The nose is just amazing. Firstly there is new oak, not as you would typically find it in a wine’s aromas, but rather more like being in a Médoc chais. If you’ve ever had the chance to be in such an establishment the oak is lifted, intertwined with evaporating alcohol from the wine. Freshly made milk chocolate and lightly roasted coffee and exotic spices (so exotic, in fact, that they are hard to pin down!)
The aromas continue through to the palate, though the oak is a little more pronounced now but fresh raspberries, cranberries and alpine strawberries have joined the fray. The palate is super-smooth, with gentle tannins just hovering in the background. Acidity is firm but not intrusive, just giving a fresh aspect to the ripe fruit flavours.
This is still a very young wine, especially in magnum, which will develop gracefully over the next few decades. Even in this youthful stage, I have to include it among the top five wines I’ve ever tasted and declare it as the best nose on any red wine I’ve tasted, ever. This wine is made in very small quantities but if you ever get chance to enjoy a bottle chais vous (you see what I did there?) then you owe it to yourself to snap it up!
- ABV: 14.0%
- RRP: €60 bottle / €120 magnum
- Stockists: Deveney’s of Dundrum (magnum)