Ribolla Gialla, a native Friulano varietal, is a seriously solid white that holds its own against flavorful, rich foods - and enough to make a believer out of even the most stalwart red wine fanatics. This particular producer, La Viarta, is situated in a miniscule growing region known as Prepoto, also home to eccentric and innovative winemaker Edi Kante. I had the incredible pleasure of visiting this region (and Kante's fantastical winery) a few years ago - the amazing wildflower honey and bright olive oil from which still linger in my memory.
By sight, this La Viarta has a wonderfully bright and characteristic straw- to greenish-yellow color. Pure Ribolla Gialla. By smell, our Ribolla turns up pears, apples and tropical fruit hints.
What's so delightful is the utter balance of full-bodied flavors; rich on the palate with apples, yellow plums, tarragon and undertones of pineapple and passionfruit, accompanied by wooded undertones - despite being entirely unoaked. Grown in a sandy, Eocene marl - for you and me, that means a mixture of clay and lime - which imparts that deep, intensely luxurious mineral finish. This Ribolla Gialla is hand harvested, aged in stainless steel and spends one month in the bottle before releasing its wonderful goodness to the outside world.
La Viarte also produces Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso, Schiopettino and Tazzelenge - mysterious varietals of the strange that I crave, but have nary a way to get my hands on this side of the Atlantic. That unto itself warrants a return visit to this obscure and wonderful corner of Italy.
Wine: La Viarte Ribolla Gialla 2005, Colli Orientali Del Friuli Azienda Agricoloa La Viarte, Prepoto, Italia
Varietal: 100% Ribolla Gialla
Recommended Pairings: Fritto misto, grilled shrimp, raw clams/oysters and seafood-based pastas such as squid-ink with calamari