A woke yesterday morning with an extra lift in my somewhat overwhelmed step. A faintly cocky bounce on the tips of my toes in the knowing that I was going to be tasting Sauvignon Blanc all morning. I’ve been dipped into a vat of wines that I have very little experience with, trying to wrap my head and palate around a whole new bunch of grapes and while I find that gratifying and adore the opportunity to learn I was ready to wrap my lips around something that I knew.
I drink Sauvignon Blanc, I love Sauvignon Blanc. No more challenging my palate….well other than testing its fortitude, this was to be a cake walk and I could chime in with all my fancy Sauvignon Blanc descriptors, reach deep down in my bag of tricks and find the round peg for the round hole. Thrilling feeling that. For the first time on the trip I was kind of an expert on something we were to be tasting…..um, yeah.
Once huddled down at the Consorzio we began tasting. This is no slacker, sit around and shoot the shit kind of deal. We are being given a total immersion into the wines of Colli Orientali del Friuli, this means we are tasting six wines at a time, jotting a few notes, dumping and moving on. No lengthy discussions and no romantic gushing, sniff, taste, swish, scribble, spit and move on to the next flight of six. So I somewhat smugly pick up the first wine in the first flight and scanned the faces of my Italian wine aficionado travel buddies, feeling the, “Oh yeah bitches, watch me now” wriggle up my spine and just as I brought the wine to my nose I felt that “bitches” thing drop all the way back down to my ass. Dammit.
I quickly spun and sniffed each wine in the first flight, searching for something….anything that was familiar in this grouping of wines made from the grape that I so adore. Nothing. Practically nothing in the glass compared to what I knew of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, Bordeaux, California, Chile or New Zealand, what the hell?! I sucked it up and told myself that it was just a weird flight of wines, don’t get me wrong, the wines were not weird, just not what I expected from Sauvignon. Shoulders back as the next flight was poured, my little spunk trying to regain its footing and after spinning glass number one from flight number two, burying my nose it….I realized that I don’t know shit about Sauvignon Blanc, least not the ones from Colli Orientali del Friuli. Kinda thinking that is why they wanted us to come here, to learn all the shit we thought we knew…..
Thirty something Sauvignons later and I walked out of the tasting less cocky than I had hoped for but knowing a shitload more than I did when I walked in. We discussed the tasting over lunch and the one resounding impression I was left with about Colli Orientali del Friuli Sauvignon, I mean other than it is its own thing and ought not be judged by any other Sauvignon grown anywhere else…they are profoundly sec. Ha! Take that, I got to use one of my French terms….ahhh, I feel better now. Truthfully the wines are quite a bit drier than many and not only was it educational as far as tasting Sauvignon Blanc from this place, it was a reminder, a gentle nudge or flick on the back of the head not to encapsulate any wine by variety….just like people they are the products of their environment, each one unique and deserving of fresh eyes and palates.
After lunch we stopped in to taste the wines at Ronco del Gnemiz and were greeted first by the sweetest little floozy of a dog. The second anyone’s hand came near her she would drop to the ground and roll over on her back, hey the girl knows what she wants, who the hell am I to judge? After petting the tummy of Floozy McFun Puppy I looked up and was met by the hand of Christian Patat and while I knew we had never met there was something in his face that was terribly familiar, not so much any features as a feeling I had when my eyes fell upon him. Shrugged off the, “God I feel like I’ve seen you before” feeling we made our salutations and all headed into the tasting/music room at Ronco del Gnemiz.
Seated around the table while Christian and wife Serena discussed their methods of viticulture, the style of the wines they are looking to create, explaining that while they may not make wines that are typical of the region, they believed they were making wines that were true to their vision. Sitting in that room listening to them, watching my fellow travelers ogle their extensive collection of jazz I started to feel that little “itch” once again, there was just something about these people that was clicking with me in a big way……..then I tasted their 2009 Ronco del Gnemiz Sauvignon Peri.
“Dagueneau” it popped in my head once I smelled the intensity of that wine; the wickedly ripe guava, the middle core of minerals, that saliva inducing zing of citrus rind, Dagueneau. Once I had the wine in my mouth I knew that while I had never tasted that wine….there was a very familiar “spirit” in it. The 2008 Sauvignon Sol was yet another comforting hug of sorts, the super tropical fruit, seasoning of creamy oak, the girth on the palate. Here was the commonality I had been searching for all afternoon, the expression I was aching to find, my mistake was looking for it in the flavor of a grape rather than in the spirit of the person or people behind it.
Scusi….and won’t happen again.