November 30, 2017

Vie di Romans, Friuli Isonzo

2015 ‘Ciampagnis’ Chardonnay
Retail:  $49.95 / btl  (6 btl/cs)
Only 1 case available

2015 ‘Piere’ Sauvignon
Retail:  $58.95 / btl  (6 btl/cs)
Only 4 cases available

2015 ‘Dessimis’ Pinot Grigio
Retail:  $59.95 / btl  (6 btl/cs)
Only 3 cases available


The Wines

Ciampagnis Chardonnay

From the Ciampagnis Vieris vineyard, Gianfranco suggests that this wine will reach its peak maturity in 8 years, and cellar well for 20-24 years. The vines average 24 years of age, planted 6,000 vines/ha, on shallow, well-drained soils with a generous gravelly-pebbly texture and some reddish clay - indicating ferrous and aluminum oxides. Ciampagnis is the more linear of the VdR Chardonnays. Malolactic is inhibited, and the wine spends 8 months on its lees in barriques of a variety of age.

2015 Ciampagnis Chardonnay

93 points – John Szabo MS,
"A clean and fresh, minerally example free from wood influence (it's unoaked), and a fine and fleshy, balanced, elegant, mid-weight palate. I love the silky-creamy texture and the genuine flavour intensity - this is fine and polished wine to be sure with ample concentration. It sits comfortably on the lightly reductive side of the spectrum (not overtly flinty, but protected from oxygen at all stages). Mostly lemony-citrus fruit and (green) apple flavours dominate. Classy, and considering the track record of this estate, this chardonnay should last up to 20 years or beyond. Tasted November 2017."


Piere Sauvignon Blanc

The Piere vineyard is planted to mostly Italian clones of Sauvignon, averaging 16 years of age. It's a high-density / low-yielding vineyard at 6,000 vines/ha on medium-deep soil with some gravelly-pebbly texture and silica-rich clay, producing less than 1 kg of fruit per plant. Malolatic is not permitted, and the wine spends 8 months on its lees in inox, never seeing oak. (In comparison, Gianfranco's Vieris Vineyard is planted primarily with French clones of Sauvignon, and that Sauvignon Blanc matures in barrique.) Sauvignon Blanc has been grown in Friuli for well over 100 years, and is considered a native variety. Traditionally called Sauvignon, with the 2015 vintage the full name Sauvignon Blanc is now permitted on the label.

2015 Piere Sauvignon Blanc

91 pointsJohn Szabo MS,
 "A stony-clay vineyard planted to French clones of sauvignon (as opposed to Vie di Romans other single vineyard sauvignon bottling from massale selections of old Italian plants). There's a nice mix of pyrazine and citrus on the nose, subdued in the worldwide sauvignon context, lightly herbal, lemon-lime juice inflected, with a touch of jalapeño, fresh pumpkin, a touch of nose-tingling SO2. The palate is reminiscent of a richer style Sancerre of Pouilly-Fumé. Acidity is firm and crisp but not aggressive, quite ripe in fact. Length and depth are very good. Leave this in the cellar for another 2-4 years for full development, or you can even hold this a decade or longer, given the track record of older vintages from Vie di Romans. Tasted November 2017."  (note to reader - John's comment on which vineyard is planted to each clone is reversed, see my note above. RG)


Dessimis Pinot Grigio

The Dessimis vineyard is similar to the Ciampagnis vineyard – shallow, well-drained soils with generous gravelly-pebbly texture and some reddish clay. The high-density planting (6,000 - 7,800 vines/ha) yields barely 3/4 kg per plant. Average vine age is 18 years. Malolactic is not permitted, and the wine spends 9 months on its lees. All these factors contribute to a very complex, age-worthy expression of Pinot Grigio. Unlike the commercial stuff, VdR Dessimis Vineyard Pinot Grigio has a pale salmon colour, reflecting the natural colour of this noble variety's grape skins. As Gianfranco attests, greater phenolic ripeness brings more colour to the skins – ie farming for quality & character: reflecting the terroir and the full potential of this variety, instead of farming for dollars & volume. Testament to this statement of quality, Gianfranco suggests the Dessimis Pinot Grigio will reach peak maturity in 8 years, and cellar well for 18.


2015 Dessimis Pinot Grigio

93 points – John Szabo MS,
"The idea at Vie di Romans is to treat this variety more like a red grape, with almost a day on the skins giving it a pale pink-orange colour (though it's not considered an 'orange' wine, as it's made in a fully reductive method, more of a traditional 'ramato' style), and indeed this is amazingly red-fruit scented on the nose, like creamy raspberry pie along with the pie crust; there's also a fine floral note, like lemon or apple blossoms, and excellent complexity overall. The palate is quite weighty and even lightly tannic, firm and structured, with exceptional length. A very compelling wine, not a typical modern example by any means (actually a traditional style in the regions, around for centuries), which will continue to improve for a half dozen years or more, growing more fiery and complex along the way (if older vintages are anything to go by). Very fine stuff. Tasted November 2017."


Italy's Greatest White Wines?

Vie di Romans is one of Italy’s most esteemed estates. Considered by many to be the best whites in all of Italy, the wines are highly concentrated, mineral and textured expressions of pure varietal character. The immaculate estate comprises 53 hectares in the Isonzo Valley — 5 km east to Slovenia, 80 km north to the Alps, 20 km south to the Adriatic. Gianfranco Gallo took over management of the estate from his father in 1978, when we was only 19, and introduced a number of radical viticultural programs. Fanatical attention to detail in the vineyard and cellar, and an undying curiosity make these some of the best, most unique wines in Italy.

The soils here are deep and calcium-rich, created by glacial erosion. Daylight hours are long due to northerly latitude (46º), and the Bora wind blows constantly from the East, creating fluctuations in daytime temperatures as well as large diurnal range. This slows the ripening process, allowing for the grapes to develop wonderful complexity throughout their long maturation. Low yields (from high planting density) and late picking both add concentration to the fruit. 

In the cellar, the wines are treated to a completely anaerobic environment — crushing & de-stemming, long maceration, and pressing are all performed under the protection of nitrogen, designed to preserve aromatics and show off the true character of the grape. The fruit from each vineyard block is treated separately in the cellar to express the terroir of that site. The wines are then aged in a mix of older and new barriques, tailored to the vineyard source. Blending, if any, comes after.

In 1990 Gianfranco completed the first stage of a highly specific new winery, designed to handle the fruit for his vineyards parcel by parcel, and in a way that maximized the potential for his vision of quality and character. At this time, Vie di Romans replaced the family name on the labels, as a certain American wine company demanded a change of name on this historic estate. And now Tommaso has joined his parents in the winery, having completed his degree in oenology & viticulture, and spent time working internationally. These are very fine people, continuously challenging themselves to increase the quality and character of their wines. The results are truly impressive.



Monica Larner, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, on Vie di Romans:

 "Gianfranco Gallo's Vie di Romans is one of the most accomplished, quality-minded estates in Italy."

Gambero Rosso on Vie di Romans:

"Vie di Romans is a prestigious brand, a model company, and a real jewel on the region's viticultural scene. Gianfranco Gallo is the man behind this masterpiece, the result of exceptional qualities which result in a style based on precise viticultural strategies combined with meticulous vinification. The wines, above all the whites, display marked territorial expression and impressive structure. The vineyards all lie within the Friuli isonzo DOC zone, a few kilometres from the Bay of Trieste, where the continental climate meets that of the Mediterranean. The soils are on the plains, but enjoy an ideal microclimate and subsoils rich in minerals."

Antonio Galloni on Vie di Romans (confession – The Gallo family is related to Galloni's wife's family):

 "Gianfranco Gallo is one of just a few growers in Friuli with a truly global vision of the wine world. Not surprisingly, his are some of the finest wines in the region. Over the last few vintages the Vie di Romans whites seem to have become more finessed, which is a huge positive."