Venica and Wine Warehouse – Something to Celebrate!
Oct 01, 2016
As we’ve noted before, it takes a special touch to manage an estate like Venica & Venica’s with fifty five microclimates spread over twenty-eight hectares of vineyards on seven fossil laden hills in Friuli’s sweet spot province of Collio. But after eighty years and four generations, the Venica family has it down.
To accommodate their superior grapes the family approaches each varietal in their thoughtful range with fine honed deliberation including in some cases specialized equipment. Every step from vineyard to cellar is taken with one guiding intention – to get as much as possible of the terroir and fruit character from their unique vineyards conveyed as transparently as possible into each of their wines.
Venica’s range is organized into three tiers; varietal, aromatic and single vineyard, each identified by a different colored bottleneck capsule – yellow for the varietal collection, orange for the aromatic wines and dark green for the two single vineyards. The “varietal” range consists of Pinot Grigio Jessera, Fruilano and Pinot Bianco, each a composition from a combination of carefully chosen vineyard sites. Venica cold ferments the handpicked grapes in custom designed tanks. Bottled early, the wines open up quickly and drink well when young.
Venica’s “aromatic” range is anchored by the amazing Ronco del Cero, a 100% Sauvignon Blanc expression blended from seven small sites on a steep hill called “Cero”, first purchased by “the ancestor” in 1929. It’s joined by a small production cuvee of Malvasia, Istriana, offered in homage to the old days when this local grape with complex floral and fruit character was a dominant varietal.
The third tier consists of two pretty famous single vineyard wines.
The first, Ronco Delle Cime is one of Italy’s greatest white wines, maybe the best of all. You could make that argument for this epic 100% Friulano made from selected grapes grown in the estate’s highest elevated vineyard. The Venicas make Cime quickly to capture every molecule of fruit. Initially the freshly picked grapes are macerated for twelve hours and pressed under CO2 to prevent oxidation. Fermentation follows quickly but lasts no longer than fourteen days. Before bottling the new wine stays in tank for six months of settling during which the lees are stirred regularly for the first two months. The combination of amazing old vine fruit and cerebral processing elevates this wine to greatness. Too bad so few six packs are produced.
Ronco delle Mele, the second single vineyard selection is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and also hails from an ancestral vineyard on a hilltop, in this case one partially eroded and held in place today by apple trees planted by, you guessed it, “the ancestor”. The Venicas consider Mele’s soils to be the estate’s healthiest. Probably for that reason they hand harvest the fruit in three separate passes through the vineyard. First the grapes at the top of the hill are gathered followed progressively by those from the lower slopes. After maceration for twelve hours under CO2, 80% of the wine is fermented quickly in temperature-controlled tanks. The remaining 20% is barrel fermented in large French oak casks where it ages for an additional six months. The result is profound – big flavors with a balancing wide “cut”.
Take your pick. All of Venica’s wines are “best of class”.
The varietals are authentic and terroir driven, the aromatic wines are unique old vine expressions and the two single vineyard wines, both among Italy’s most awarded white wines, are at the top of the quality pyramid.
Now come the really good news – new vintages are arriving and they are the best in the last ten years according to the man who should know – Hollywood handsome Giampaolo Venica. The 2016 Pinot Grigo Jesera with its ever so slight and entirely intentional hint of red blush (from the natural color of the grape skins) is “very concentrated and generous for both fruit and texture”, Giampaolo reports. The other incoming wines will be from the enormously successful 2015 vintage and include Pinot Bianco, Ronco Delle Cime, and more Ronco Del Cero. Ronco Delle Mele 2015 already is in stock.
Finally, you might as well know it – we’ve got something special to celebrate – it’s our tenth anniversary as Venica’s partner in California.
Venica and Wine Warehouse have been working together for a decade already and we couldn’t be happier. The estate is in great hands as Giampaolo Venica readies himself to formally succeed his dad Gianni whose well-deserved retirement soon will be at hand. Personally, I’ve never seen a son more ready or better qualified to succeed a father.
Remember the old song lyric “the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades”? Well that’s how it looks peering ahead toward the next decade of partnership between Venica and yours truly. Meanwhile check out these delicious cutting edge white wines from one of the best shops on the plaza. Cheers!