Ronco delle Betulle
Ronco delle Betulle
Ronco delle Betulle (www.roncodellebetulle.it) is a small, family-run winery with an annual production of around 50,000 bottles per year from 12 hectares of vines. In the same family for three generations, we were shown round by Simone who runs the winery with his mother, Ivana. One of the first things that strikes you is the large sundial on the wall above the winery door and above that the words ‘cunctis optima bibendi hora’ which translates as ‘a good hour for everyone to drink’.
The microclimate for this vineyard is hot and dry and, looking south, there are no hills between the winery and the Adriatic which lies just 30 kilometres away. The predominant wind is the Bora which blows from the northeast and keeps mould at bay so this is good land for vines.
We sampled three wines. The first was a 2018 Friulano. Friulano, as the name suggests, is a local grape variety grown almost exclusively here and in the Veneto. After fermentation, the wine is left on the lees for five to six months. This gives the wine a fullness which is unusual – most Italian winemakers prefer their whites with a crispness. The colour is lemon and, again, there is lemon citrus on the nose. In the mouth there is pink grapefruit with light acidity and a good finish. I would pair this with asparagus and perhaps a strong fish like swordfish.
The second tasting was a wine from another local grape variety, Ribolla Gialla, this one from 2019. Again, this is a very local variety. 70% of the Ribolla Gialla grape is from this region. This is a grape with a lot of history behind it – Giovanni Bocaccio, the famous 14th century writer and author of The Decameron wrote about the quality of the wine. The harvest, towards the end of September, is late for a white grape. This is a grape which does not produce wines with a strong bouquet and here there is a light perfume of green apple. In the mouth there is quite high acidity with some salinity and hints of raisins. It pairs well with dishes with herbs and vegetables and has a good aging potential.
Finally, we were privileged to taste the Rosazzo, a famous wine of this region. This is a blend of 50% Friulano, 25% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Chardonnay. The blending process is unusual in that the wine is fermented partially in steel and a small percentage in oak before being matured in French oak of mixed age for 12 months. The colour is a rich gold with a bouquet of clementine. On the palate it is full-bodied and well-structured with a touch of acidity. Simone assures me that it has an aging potential of 20 years which is very unusual for an Italian white wine.