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Don Chigazola is back on California Wine Country this week, with more wines from Italy and with one of his suppliers, Loris Traverso. First, Don Chigazola introduces his friend and collaborator from Italy, Loris Traverso, whose family owns a winery, Vigna Traverso, in Campo di Pietra, between Treviso and Venezia, in the Veneto. Loris is visiting Don Chigazola, who imports Traverso wines.
Don Chigazola is based in Santa Rosa. He left the corporate world five years ago and now he travels the back roads of Italy looking for exceptional wines, which he imports back to California through his company, Chigazola Merchants. He sells directly to the consumer via his wine club, as well as to shops and restaurants in northern California.
The Traverso family has two properties, one called Ornella Molon, the other in the Friuli Colli Orientali district, (in northeastern Italy near Slovenia) which produces the Pinot Grigio that they are tasting today.
Dan says that Pinot Grigio has to be made in a cooler region for its aromatics to come out. This wine has a trace of fennel character in the aroma. The acidity is bracing and it would go with some seafood that is not particularly rich, grilled seafood. Loris would drink it as an aperitivo, with some prosciutto. You could also serve it with spaghetti and vongole (clams). Dan suggests this wine will be better in another year or two, not quite as fruity but the body will be richer.
They taste a Mouvedre called Pool Boy, which has a peculiar label. Then they taste a Red, called Schoippettino. There is some pepper flavor in it. The cold climate Syrah’s pepper flavors are also in the Mouvedre. Loris thinks of it as a nice summer wine, for easy consumption, very light. Next they taste a Rock Wall 2016 Malvasia Bianca, from Livermore Valley. Malvasia is a white wine variety that is fairly common in Italy. It’s sometimes used as a blending wine. It’s another great summer wine. About 30 years ago Malvasia was planted in Napa and they made a sweet wine out of it. They even distributed a recipe for Malvasia Cake. They don’t to that anymore.
Next they taste a very interesting red, from the Friuli regions, Colli Orientali, called Schioppettino. This is Loris’ family production. The winery is on the border with Slovenia. Schioppettino Ribolla Nera. During fermentation the wine made a popping sound. They changed the name to Schioppettino. They drink two of these. Dan thinks the 2010 isn’t going to get better but the 2013 might. The black pepper component is a characteristic of cold climate viticulture. Since 2011 there was an agreement among Prepotto producers that only they can call their wine Schioppettino di Prepotto. This could easily become a DOCG wine. Between the ’10 and the ’13, Dan has to prefer the ’13 because there is more explosive fruit. Last night they had barbequed hamburgers with the 2010 Schioppettino.
Dan points out something that is important to him. Last night he was at a tasting of 100-point wines that were almost all Cabernet Sauvignon. This made him reflect on the fact that there are so many other types of varieties and flavors and nobody has ever heard of it before. The familiar ones are fine, but people should take some risks and buy some wines that they haven’t heard of because there are so many wonderful discoveries to be made, outside of the most common wines.
In the last segment, Steve asks Don Chigazola to describe his import business. He says he wants to recreate the experience of tasting the small artisan Italian wines that he has when he travels. He found that a lot of the Italian varietals that we get here are from the big producers. He wanted to share the wines that he discovers with his customers.
Loris Traverso is visiting importers and distributors in the US. He tells that both sides of his family came from agricultural families who were self-sufficient. His family stayed in the countryside and started to grow the grapes that their parents had used to make wine at home. At the beginning of the ’80s they decided to open the winery, using his mother’s name. The villa that they are in now is an old Venetian country villa which was one of the country houses of the Doge of Venice in the 1600s. It’s only a 20 minute drive from Venice. It’s worth visiting. Don Chigazola says that the villa is spectacular. In addition to restoring the villa they have built an Osteria where Ornella serves food like you’ve never had before.