Italy certainly is a treasure trove of unique grape varieties. Often, these varieties were almost forgotten and lost before being revived, in the last couple of decades, by some dedicated winemakers who just knew that they could provide great wines with distinctive characteristics.
Think of the Arneis of Piedmont, this tasty white grape that hardly only Bruno Giacosa cultivated, at the turn of the 80s, before some producers decided to show what it could do. Or Falanghina, a refreshing and aromatic white grape from Campania. Or the solid wines made from Frappato in Sicily. Or my latest discovery, Pignolo, a traditional venetian grape that definitely has a lot going for it.
The Pignolo I tasted came to me as a sample from Castello di Buttrio, an estate owned by the family of Marco Felluga, and managed by his daughter Alessandra, who are seeking to expand distribution in North America – and would well deserve it.
Beyond the Pignolo, whose name (and bunch shape) evokes a pine cone, they do some very impressive whites, like a lean, bright, mineral chardonnay, and a clean, aromatic and refreshing Friulano.
The Pignolo, Buttrio’s top bottling, is a very tasty, impressive wine, with intense flavors of plum and dark cherry, with spice and a significant amount of ripe tannins. Aged in small barrels for 24 months, it shows well-integrated oak character
Intense and well-defined but not big and rich. There is a solid structure and enough acidity to keep this fresh, and to provide this wine with a very interesting aging potential. At four years old, this vintage feels very young and vibrant.
Obviously, the Pignolo is a candidate for grilled meats or wine-braised beef. Substantial dishes for a substantial wine.