A First Course in Wine: From Grape to Glass. Copyright 2013; Race Point Publishers, NY. 224 pages. Forward by Mario Batali.

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Interview with Valter Scarbolo of Azienda Agr. Scarbolo, Friuli, Italy

There are many unique growing areas in the world, and the tiny slice of heaven known as Friuli is no

Friuli Venezia Giulia, the culture-rich mecca of eastern Italy

less exceptional than any other.  Located in the east of Italy, bordering Slovenia and Austria, the region of Friuli is known for such culinary delights as Prosciutto di San Daniele and Montasio cheese.  Wines are also a specialty of the region, and winemaker Valter Scarbolo is one of the pioneers of Friulian winemaking.  On his recent visit to the NY market, I had the opportunity to discuss with him the ins and the outs of the Friulian way.

DA:  Why is Friuli an ideal locale to grow grapes?

VS:  It’s a very unique growing area because the mountains in the north provide cool winds, while the trade winds that blow in from the east help warm the vines.  On top of that, the Adriatic Sea, which is only 80 meters at its deepest point, also helps warm the vines during the cooler autumn months.

DA:  What are some of the most common grapes grown in Friuli?

VS:  We grow many grapes in Friuli such as Tocai Friulano, Picolit, and Refosco.  These are some of Friuli’s most important native grapes.  We also cultivate Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay.

The man, the myth, the legend: Valter Scarbolo

DA:  You recently produced a new wine, called “My Time”  which was favored by many of the leading periodicals in the USA, such as Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast.  Can you elaborate on this wine?

VS:  “My Time” is a white wine produced from a blend of native grapes and international grapes.  The assemblage, along with proper aging and just a touch of oak, creates a wine that exhibits a balance of minerals, acidity, and vanilla, and fruit.

DA:  You also produce an interesting red wine produced from Merlot, called “Campo del Viotto”.  In order to make this wine, you dry about half of the grapes before fermenation.  What does this process add to the blend?

VS:  The dried grapes add a layer of depth and complexity to the finished wine.  Although the wine is concentrated with fruit and berry aromas, it’s not overly fruity and oaky.  Many of the grapes come from the ‘Mattia’ vineyard, named after my son, Mattia.

Many of Valter’s wines, both white and red, can be purchased at retail for under $20.

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