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Refosco - a completely new experience for me

Even after 15 years in the wine trade, and even having eschewed most wines from the New World (and many parts of the Old World) in commercial terms, there is still much to learn, it seems. Recent dabbling with Italian wines should have been enough to forewarn me that I really know next to nothing about wine. I reassure myself that, with very few exceptions, few do.

This was highlisghted to me when, having received some samples of Refosco from the producer of our new Prosecco (unsurprisingly a great success this summer), Grandi e Gabana, I posted a query on Wine-Pages to ask what I should expect from this grape. This forum is made up of enthusiasts who, in many cases, like to try virtually every style of wine imaginable. Only seven people seemed to have any experience whatsoever of the grape.

Why is this? It's an easy name to pronounce, after all - pronunciation is all important to the English consumer after all (and, perhaps, to residents elsewhere in the British Isles but the English are, perhaps, worst at soaking up foreign languages. I write this as an English man, of course. So why does Refosco remain so unknown?

It seems to go by the name of Teran in Croatia (or Terrano in Slovenia) but in north-east Italy, variations on Refosco are the norm. In Friuli, it is Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso (peduncolo rosso means "red stems"). So far, so good.

So, what of the grape itself?

Two samples were tasted. The first was nothing special on the nose - quite youthful and simple really - but it had a decent, savory palate with plummy black fruit and a kick of attractive green undergrowth on the finish. However, the second sample tasted is only about £1 more and delivers substantially more than that.

This was a 2009 reserve bottling (apparently it spends two years in oak but this is not at all obvious) which had pronounced black fruit which reminded me of a cool climate Aussie Shiraz, the sort that is bottled as Syrah to distinguish it from the jammy Barossa wines (and the sort I prefer) but with slightly wilder fruits too. Structurally, this is moderately tannic and I would expect the wine to age interestingly over six or seven years. I am told it will develop more floral characters over time which should be interesting. There is good acidity here to keep it going too.

Price-wise, this is interesting too. I made a point of not knowing what to expect for the wine until after I had tasted it: bang on £10 per bottle sounds very fair for this. A welcome new discovery for me!

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