Refosco’s history is shrouded in confusion and a bit of mystery, especially its strange story here in California. In Italy it is thought to be a Venetian native, mostly Friulian today, but then the family breaks into distinct and perhaps unrelated strains, spreading throughout Friuli and into Croatia and Slovenia where it is also (perhaps) related to Teran/Terrano. It is also possible that Refosco produced the famed Roman Puccinum wine praised by Pliny the Elder.
In California, Refosco was already highly respected by 1885, producing “Crabb’s Black Burgundy” in southern Napa Valley near Oakville to much acclaim. This was a fertile period of grape importation as vines from all over poured in and were planted in test plots around California, but some confusion was inevitable, and Refosco and French Mondeuse plantings in Amador County became intermixed. DNA testing found them to be unrelated, though I can taste the confusion potential. Darrell Corti assured me that Crabb’s vines were imported by a Friulian Count, insuring their Italian origin, which others dispute.
The wine: Historically Refosco can have a bit of that “iron fist in a velvet glove” thing. A slightly tart (yet mouth watering) core with purple fruits, pepper, and focused texture that is somewhat angular but with fine tannin, good acidity and subtle floral tones that evolve with time. This is a serious medium-weight-plus wine with spice and a great mix of high and low tones and good fruit to knit the whole package together.
This bottling is a blend of the 2017 and 2018 vintages. So why non-vintage for this particular bottling? Two reasons. The first is that 2017 and 2018 were two very different vintages. 2017 was very wet, relatively cool, and yielded a lighter Refosco, bright with acid and spice, and lower in alcohol, but also a little hollow and lacking the meat and bones of our 2016 vintage. 2018 was the opposite, darker, heavier, richer, but lacking the bright spice and tart core spinal column that is so essential. I was surprised at how well they dovetailed when test blending. Refosco is very fickle though, and with bottle age floral elements can appear, then later disappear while the wine moves in a more tobacco-ish direction, reminding us again that it is a living, evolving thing.
Label image: Taken from Elias Ashmole’s Theatrum Chemicum Britannicumfirst published in 1652, the label depicts the descending bird as the breath of God, and the dragon is the complex life force which the breath sets into motion. The alchemical scholars seek to learn its secrets including the spirit of life, both destroying, creating, and many other transmutational manifestations.
150 cases produced
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