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 Burgandy” 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 has a bit of that “iron fist in a velvet glove” thing. A tart core with purple fruits, pepper, and a bit of that Barbera rubber with angular tannin, good acidity and subtle floral tones evolve with time. This is a serious medium-weight wine that needs air though, so it can go from stinky to pretty in just a few minutes and will keep changing.
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.
72 cases produced
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