Pair with:

pellet grill brisket

Franklin BBQ style Brisket

Depth of character and plenty of tannins melt the fat in the meat. This is a meal fit for a king!

braised beef short ribs wine

Braised Short Ribs

One of the most ideal food and wine pairings in the universe! Tender, succulent braised beef with an earthy Italian wine.

A decade-old Bordeaux blend, lush and layered and right smack in the middle of its prime drinking window, for $35? Yes, we’ve offered the likes of this before, but usually from Bordeaux—and if this wine were from Bordeaux you might already be at ‘checkout’ rather than reading any further. These are the kind of wines I love finding at SommSelect.

Instead, “Vignaricco” is from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in northeastern-most Italy, an area that has been home to the classic red Bordeaux varieties since the 19th century, if not before. The D’Attimis-Maniago clan has winemaking roots in the village of Buttrio going back much further still, so it’s no surprise that this wine is as polished, structurally sound, and poised for further aging as one from a great château in Bordeaux. Buttrio, in the heart of the Friuli Colli Orientali DOC zone, is arguably the red wine capital of the region (it’s home to the cult-favorite Miani, among many others), and while Conte d’Attimis-Maniago is known for championing the region’s indigenous varieties—including Schioppettino, which finds its way into “Vignaricco” alongside Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot—the Bordeaux grapes remain a key component of the Friulian red wine landscape. I always tie myself in knots explaining them, so let’s try a simpler tack this time: This is an incredible value for a mature red that outclasses countless Bordeaux—an easy choice, in my book!

The addition of the local Schioppettino grape lends some Rhône-like cracked pepper and violet notes to the equation, which only adds to the irresistible appeal of “Vignaricco.” It’s part of an extensive lineup of reds produced at Conte d’Attimis-Maniago, which, with 110 hectares of vineyards, is is a rather large estate by Friulian standards. The family, currently headed by Count Alberto d’Attimis-Maniago, traces its lineage in Buttrio back to 1585, when vineyard land was included in a dowry for a marriage. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the modern-day operation has been a focus on the indigenous red grapes of Friuli-Venezia Giulia: they make ‘varietal’ reds from Schioppettino, Pignolo, Refosco, and Tazzelenghe, along with Cabernet, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.
Vignaricco is hardly unusual in its melding of indigenous and “international” varieties—it’s been done throughout Italy for generations, helping to draw consumer attention to the lesser-known grapes. But in many ways, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (which in Friuli gets pronounced with a hard ‘t’ at the end, i.e. mer-LOTE) could be considered indigenous as well: these varieties have been grown in northeast Italy, and Friuli especially, for a long time—many experts think they arrived in northeastern Italy when Napoleon launched a campaign there at the end of the 1700s, but it could well have been before that. Before the relatively recent rise in popularity of Friuli’s “indigenous” varieties—many of which, like Pignolo, had neared extinction—these were the signature red grapes of the region (as was Sauvignon Blanc on the white side).

In Buttrio, the soils are a calcareous (i.e. limestone-rich) marl-and-sandstone mix known locally as ponka. The 2010 Vignaricco was aged in a combination of larger casks and smaller barriques, then spent a considerable amount of time aging in bottle before its initial release; the bottles we received were a “library” selection sent straight from the winery, which accounts for their pristine condition—the color, concentration, and freshness of this 2010 suggest something younger, which is a sign of good storage. In the glass, it’s a deep garnet red moving to magenta/pink at the rim, with only the slightest hint of “bricking.” It shows a lot of mature Right Bank Bordeaux character initially in the aromas, with scents of black plum, black raspberry, fennel, cedar, tobacco, pencil shavings, dark chocolate, and coffee grounds. Then, as I said above, there’s some of the violet, black pepper, and “purple” fruit character of Northern Rhône Syrah. It is medium-plus in body and, having had time to knit together, showing off a lush, voluptuous texture. It’s delicious, layered, and long, ready to enjoy now and for a good five years to come at least. Decant it (watching for sediment) about 15 minutes before serving at 60-65 degrees in Bordeaux stems. It will pair with a wide variety of grilled and roasted meats, and if you’re looking for authentic inspiration, check out the new cookbook, Friuli Food & Wine, from my pals Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, CO (written with Meredith Erickson). This is a region you need to know more about!

“The northeastern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia has a long and distinguished history with the “Bordeaux” varieties. This noble red, still singing at a decade old, adds a dollop of the indigenous Schioppettino variety for a spicy twist.”