Tag Archives: Pignolo

Bressan in Friuli – The Wine, the Food, the Passion

16 Oct

Awesome! Lori and my visit to Bressan was one of the highlights of our research trip to Northern Italy. Fulvio Bressan, the winemaker is quite a character and his wife Jelena is his partner in their way of life, which is about making great wine and finding “balance”.

Fulvio is a man of many details and with reasons for what he does (for more on that, see companion blog Bressan in Friuli – “Ingredients” for Making Great Wine ”). He is passionate about life and winemaking, and lives life on his own terms. He is opinionated, but at the same time has logical reasons for his viewpoints. We personally agree with their philosophy which resonated with us during the visit. They don’t (won’t) provide wines for evaluation by the so-called “pros”. At times, Fulvio hasn’t allowed wine critics/writers to visit his winery and taste the wines. Fulvio said that the two wine evaluating groups in Italy are run by “mafias”, not to be believed or trusted.

Fulvio studied in France, Bordeaux, with the director of Margaux his mentor. He told Fulvio that he “must think like a vine” in order to make great wine. Fulvio also spent time in Burgundy and loves Pinot Noir. He says that 8 or more clones are needed to make good Pinot Noir – he uses 10. Napolean brought Pinot Noir to Friuli, so it’s been in Friuli a long time, not to be considered “international”.

Lori, Jelena, Mr. Pink, Fulvio

Fulvio will not sell his wine to those who want it for the wrong reasons, such as because it’s famous or because it’s the right price. In our opinion the Bressan wines are special and deserve appreciation. As Fulvio said, he makes wine the way he wants to, and if others like it, fine, if not, fine as well. Lori and I love it.

In the winery we had a spectacular barrel tasting of Pignola 1997, from acacia barrels, complex on the nose and the palate and very long. It’s still “young”, with significant tannins. Pignola is even harder to handle than Pinot Noir, but it’s a passion of his, the “Friulian Barolo”. Next was a Pignola from the same year but from a white cherry barrel. As Fulvio said, it’s “too arrogant”, with a little sweetness on the nose. Then he blended the two Pignola’s together in the glass and Voila!…even more wonderful than the first one. Wow!


Fulvio’s father appeared (in a hot pink shirt – see pic), and it was apparent where Fulvio’s passion comes from…..”he’s a philosopher”. Even without a language in common, the father was charming and expressive. He invited us to lunch and insisted that we choose whether to have fish or meat with the pasta. We chose fish…he went off to make lunch saying that everyone should be ready to drop everything and come to lunch when he called…which sort of happened. Lunch was outside under a canopy in a pleasant little area (see picture of Lori,

Lunch at Bressan

Jelena and Fulvio), with much food and a continuation of wine tasting (actually, drinking, since it was lunch).

The pasta with fish was fabulous, paired first with Carat 2006, a field blend of Friulano, Ribolla Gialla and Malvasia, golden in color, since that’s the color of the grapes. Fuvio says the field blend gives a different result than blending wine from the grapes separately….blending causes a reaction that changes the taste. Carat is macerated with the skins to give it more flavor and body, which requires healthy grapes. This wine’s complexity and flavors evolved in the glass, hard to explain, as are all the Bressan wines we tasted. A plate of tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil and spices, and another plate of “pepperoni” (roasted orange peppers, also in oil and flavored) were simple and delicious as well. The father makes his own prosciutto (he was a butcher for 40 years), and

Two Prosciutto’s, Lori and Bressan Wine

he served two types, both tender and delicious ( in the picture with Lori and 2 Bressan’s).

The second wine with lunch was Pinot Noir 2006, which Fulvio makes because he loves Pinot Noir and wants to make it “the right way”. This is a Pinot to be experienced first-hand, unlike any we’ve had. The nose is mindful of Pinot Noir, yet has an earthiness and other magical qualities on the nose and in the mouth that, again, are difficult to explain. As Fulvio pointed out, this wine goes with all the foods.

Next was a peppery Schioppettino 2006 that paired wonderfully with desserts. We loved both a special bitter dark chocolate with grainy sugar and a dried sweet orange peel, from a friend in Sicily. Fulvio called the importer and gave us contact information for us to be able to get these products….stay tuned.

After lunch Fulvio took us back into the winery for one more wine, Moscato Rosa, a rare and hard to grow grape that we’d experienced in the Alto Adige for the first time as a dessert wine. Fulvio said that if one waits one day too long to pick, the vines fall down and the crop is lost….he did that one year and his father, who usually wants to pick before Fulvio chooses to, “broke his legs” for a year. This Moscato Rosa is dry, with elegant nuances of rose petals and orange peel. “One more thing” he said and he led us back into his wine bins and pulled out a dust covered 1997 Pignolo and a 2003 EGO Cab Franc/Schioppettino (50/50), Fulvio’s signature wine, which in fact he signed….looking forward to drinking them. What a great experience….we left having new friends (see “family pic”)!

For more on Bressan, go to     http://www.bressanwines.com/


Bressan in Friuli – “Ingredients” for Making Great Wine

16 Oct

The philosophy/approach to wine and life at Bressan (Friuli, Italy) includes always striving to make better wine. In principle, this is simple…grow good grapes and turn them into good wine. On the other hand, many details go into making great wine. During our visit to Bressan, Fulvio explained many things they do that not only are different from most wineries but also make a lot of sense. What follows is a few of the things we gleaned during our visit, for those of you who are interested in some of the arcane details of wine making.

The winery has been in the family for 300 years. Bressan has land in the Collio (“ponka” soil with calcium) where we visited, and other land with iron in the soil (”ferrettizzato”), which Fulvio says is good for red wine.

We walked among some Pinot Noir vines (see picture of Lori and Jelena between vine rows) and tasted the fruit….the seeds

Lori and Jelena in the Vineyard

were brown, indicating the grapes were almost ready to pick…the seeds shouldn’t taste green. They use both sensory and scientific means to decide when to pick the grapes.

As you can see, grass is not allowed to grow in the rows between the vines because after 4-5 years it becomes a carpet that absorbs water, keeping it near the surface. This would cause the roots to grow toward the surface, which would be dangerous to the vines in a dry year. The roots should be encouraged to grow deep into the ground. Also, Bressan trims the vines early before the grapes grow, so there’s no need to green harvest…”do it right the first time!” Also, the vines live longer if the harvest is kept small….it takes up to 25 years for a vine to produce good grapes, and their vines are up to 120 years old.

To protect the plants, they use natural types of sulphur and copper that only are on the surface of the leaves. In contrast, most wineries use systemic materials that are absorbed into the plant/vine, into their “blood”. Also, they do all the picking by hand, selecting the grapes to be used in the wine as they pick….”It’s stupid to divide it into two steps, picking and then selecting later.”

Their vines have only two branches, one with the grapes for the current year, which will be removed after the harvest and the second one for grapes the following year, with a new branch kept for the ensuing year. Every 5 years they put horse manure in the ground in the middle half way between the rows….it trickles slowly in either direction to fertilize the vines over time.

The ceiling in the winery is painted (by hand) with products from macerated grapes. Bressan uses only indigenous yeast, and the yeast in the paint on the ceiling promotes the generation of the desired. The painting is done by hand since spraying would kill the yeast.

They use stainless steel for fermentation, as wood breathes too much – in typical winemaking a dried barrel from a previous year will cause a reaction if used to make more wine. He feels barrels are a vehicle for oxidation, and uses a saline solution in new barrels to season them. He also uses glass lined cement containers instead of barrels for some of his wine. On the other hand, Fulvio believes wood barrels can be used to add/influence the taste in a wine. For instance, he uses a specific type of cherry barrel for his unusual Pignola wine, and uses acacia barrels mostly for white wine (acacia is used in making sauternes). Mulberry barrels are versatile, finding use in both red and white wines. Silk was once produced in Friuli, with Mulberry leaves the food, so barrels were plentiful. Not any more; Fulvio has barrels made especially for Bressan. The wood for the mulberry barrels is cut with an axe along the direction of the grain…cross-cutting with a saw would close the grain. Fabrication of the Stainless Steel tanks is with cold welding to eliminate possible effects from hot welded metal, and the feet of the tanks are insulated to prevent galvanic effects….talk about attention to detail! The result is great wines!

For more on Bressan, go to     http://www.bressanwines.com/