Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WBW#41: Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Wed 16 Jan 2008

... hosted by Fork and Bottle.

I haven't done well with blog events recently but at the end of last year I decided to get enthused about Wine Blogging Wednesday. Not only is it an excuse to drink wine, but it might help with my forthcoming advanced WSET course (or something).

Which is why today saw me bombing around wine shops in Leeds looking for a bottle of white wine from the concisely named Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of north eastern Italy. I'd even been warned about leaving this til the last minute but I have to confess that Italian white wines are, um, not exactly an interest of mine - particularly pinot grigio ...

Bad planning has meant that I'm about to drink the same wine as Andrew over at Spittoon - le Fredis Pinot Grigio 2005. However, I haven't read his tasting notes - as soon as I saw that Oddbins (my final hope) had only one Friuli in stock I stopped reading!

Before tasting, a quick consult of the The World Atlas of Wine and wikipedia. It appears that the Friuli region offers the world three DOCGs, eleven DOCs and three IGTs (le Fredis fits into the latter category and is Venezia Giulia). The main grape grown is Friulano but there seems to be a lot of grapes grown too. The area is most noted for its white wines.

So - I was a bit disappointed to end up with an IGT wine and, what's more, one not made from one of the more obscure local grapes. My fault for not doing more research before heading into the wine shop ...
The wine ... a distinctly pale gold colour with a nose predominated by citrus, with floral and even toasty vanilla notes. Andy thinks it smells quite grassy and after a good hard think I can sort of see where he's coming from - not freshly cut grass, but how the grass cuttings smell when they've started to dry out.

On the palate, there's plenty of acid but more than a touch of residual sweetness, and, as the wine is aged on its lees, there is some toast too. I might be generous in saying medium length, so I'll temper that by noting that it's not a complex wine: the flavours don't develop and change.

Overall, not my cup of tea. I think the palate is too strongly skewed in favour of the sugar, creating an unbalanced* wine - and far too expensive for what you get (£8.49 at Oddbins). I'm quite disappointed because I love having my preconceptions (about wine) challenged - and it would have been fantastic to come away a convert. However, I've learnt some valuable lessons about wine blogging (don't leave it til the last minute and do your research!), Italian wine labelling and the wine regions in north eastern Italy - which means the exercise has been a success all round.

WBW#41: Friuli-Venezia Giulia - le Fredis Pinot Grigio, 2005, IGT Venezia Giulia, Valter Scarbolo, Lauzacco, Italy - purchased from Oddbins, Headingley, £8.49.

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*Please bear in mind, this is my opinion. I am far, far from an expert on Italian whites and it's possible that pinot grigio aficionados will point out that this is how it's supposed to be. Which is cool because I'll know for next time!
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't you return unpleasant, overpriced wine to Oddbins?

To put it another way, why does anyone shop there?

11:47 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Hi Jack - I think Oddbins may have come out of this exercise a little unfairly!!

As you may have gathered, Oddbins is a national chain and, as a rule, it's pretty good. They generally have a decent selection and the staff are reasonably clued up. They also run some interesting tastings throughout the year and generally have a couple of things for tasting in the shop (the other night they had a malt whisky and a rum on, which is a bit different).

Having said that, as they're a huge chain, they also stock something for the whole market - from £3 cheapies, to beer specials, to Krug. I live in quite a studenty area which I'm sure drives a lot of the selection for the store.

As I'm not a pinot grigio drinker I'd be pretty hesitant bowling up to any store with a complaint about le Fredis (other than "I didn't like it - we won't have anything like that again!"). I'm sure Oddbins would be more than happy to refund a wine with an actual fault - but beyond that I think in pretty much any circumstances, it's a case of caveat emptor.

While both Oddbins and my favourite (independent) shop failed to deliver on this exercise you did warn us not to leave our purchase til the last minute ... so I think it really just serves me right!!!

9:32 pm  
Blogger Andrew said...

I didnt think it was 'that' bad - perhaps I was seduced by the residual sugar?

If the success of a wine can be judged on if I would buy it again, then this one is a no. Not when there is a certain £3.19 Portuguese white in Waitrose!

5:48 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Ah I think the 'that' bad is probably because I don't like pinot grigio and possibly approached drinking it with a few too many preconceptions ...

12:39 pm  

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