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I’ve long been a fan of Ronchi di Cialla. This small, family-run estate is tucked away in the hills of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. They are responsible for single-handedly saving the grape Schioppettino from extinction. They are also home to their own subzone, Cialla.
The Cialla subzone sits at the northern edge of where grape growing is possible in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. It’s also home to Schioppettino. Brothers, Ivan and Pierpaolo Rapuzzi look after this ancient variety that their parents brought back to life. You can hear their story more in detail in the podcast ‘I’ll Drink To That’ below.
Schioppettino or Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso?
The Schioppettino di Cialla (Schioppentino from the Cialla subzone) is the flagship wine of Ronchi di Cialla. It’s a fine, medium-weight wine but I’ve often thought that their Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso di Cialla is their best red wine.
The reds made from Schioppettino are more delicate. Ronchi di Cialla makes both a young (stainless steel only) and a matured version. Both examples are unique, I often think of them as an imaginary blend of Pinot Noir, Nerello Mascalese, and Blaufränkisch. They are wines that I should like the most, low in alcohol, medium-bodied, and loaded with crunchy acidity.
Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso (Refosco with red stems) is a different animal altogether. The grape is known for making rustic wines that are high in tannin with searing acidity. In the hands of a great producer/grower, I believe that it’s capable of making wines that are similar to Northern Rhône Syrah.
The Ronchi di Cialla, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso di Cialla is just that. It’s dark, dense, and savory. Ronchi di Cialla ages the wines significantly before putting them on the market. In this set of wines, I tasted the 2012 which is the current release. A friend pulled a 2006 from his cellar to help with this article.
- Ronchi di Cialla, RiNera 2018
Ribolla Nera is the older term for Schioppettino. The Ronchi di Cialla, RiNera is made from young vines and is aged only in stainless steel. Notes of raspberry, cranberry, pepper, and earthy tones. Juicy acidity and soft tannins. Medium-bodied and not fussy with a good degree of complexity and capacity to improve with age. A strong black tea note on the finish adds to the complexity. Ronchi di Ciallia has built their reputation on their Cru Schiopettino di Cialla, but this is a lovely effort. Score: 90/100
- Ronchi di Cialla, Schioppettino di Cialla 2015
The Ronchi di Cialla, Schioppettino di Cialla is 100% Schiopettino aged in oak for just over 30 months. Another good vintage of this wine. Notes of black raspberry, pepper, leather, earth, and a touch of tobacco. There’s some bottle development but it’s a good thing. Medium-bodied and suave on the palate. Firm tannins. I still think that this grape tastes a little like Nerello Mascalese. Score: 92+/100
- Ronchi di Cialla, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso di Cialla 2006
The Ronchi di Cialla, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso di Cialla is an excellent example of how this grape ages. It’s full of blackberry, meat, dried violets, pepper, and earth. Delicious and wild with developed tannins and high acidity. It’s got a little Bordeaux flair, mixed with the wildness of Syrah, and the tanginess of Tuscany. This all adds up to something good and the wine is in a fine place now, drink it up. Score: 93+/100
- Ronchi di Cialla, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso di Cialla 2012
The Ronchi di Cialla, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso di Cialla is aged in wood and a whopping 50 months in bottle before its release. The nose has a lot of similarities with fine Bordeaux. Notes of leather, black cherry, tobacco, and pepper. This is a full-bodied, savory beauty. It’s the type of red to sip on in meditation. It finishes with chewy tannins. Score: 93/100
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Rochi di Cialla provided tasting samples. The opinions expressed in this article are unsolicited and have not been paid for in any way by governmental bodies, enterprises, or individuals. We do not sell editorial content as that would destroy the legitimacy of our reviews and the trust between Exotic Wine Travel and its readers. On occasion, we extend the option of purchasing the wines we review or/and the products we spotlight. Some of these product links are set up through affiliate programs, which means Exotic Wine Travel gets referral credits if you choose to purchase these items via the links we provide.