Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Learning and Lunching at Villa Butussi in Corno di Rosazzo

Our first official winery visit of the COF2011 (this was on Monday, mind you) took us to Azienda Agricola Valentino Butussi, in the hamlet of Corno di Rosazzo neat the southern boundaries of the Colli Orientali del Friuli.  It should come as no surprise that we tasted many a wine over the course of lunch; a welcome surprise, equally as pleasant, came in the form of a lesson on the history of the region that wove its way through the conversations during our midday repast.

The river Judrio, which flows through the cut in the landscape that you can see just beyond the vineyards in the photo above (which was taken from the back steps of the Villa Butussi), once served as the natural border between Italy and the Austrian empire.  Corno di Rosazzo was an early focal point of the First World War and the area is rich with monuments to and memories of that period of modern history, just as the area is rife with historical references to the days of Julius Caesar and the Roman empire, when the village served as a primary gateway between Rome and northeastern Europe.

Angelo Butussi (left), current patriarch of the Valentino Butussi estate, and Francesco Degano, Technical Director of the Consorzio dei Colli Orientali del Friuli warming up around the focolare.
Open hearth fireplaces, called focolare, like this one in the dining room at Villa Butussi, are typical to Friuli and are in fact considered symbolic of the region.  Many major cities in the world now have local branches of the Focolare Friulano, a worldwide network of associations devoted to preserving the Friulano language and the cultural history of the area.

All four of Angelo's children are involved in one aspect or another of work at the family estate.  His son Filippo (at right above, with Dottore Parzen at left) took the lead in presenting the wines during our home cooked lunch.

A 1999 Valentino Butussi Tocai Friulano -- the name Tocai Friulano had not yet been truncated out of legal necessity to Friulano -- was one of the stand outs of the day, still fresh, vibrant and mineral, with a lovely acid profile (though the bottle above is from a more recent vintage).

And there's no question that Mama Butussi is a fantastic cook.  Her salsiccia e cipolle served over polenta bianca was out of this world delicious -- one of those dishes I will absolutely have to attempt to replicate back home.  For me, it paired just as nicely with the Friulano as it did with the Refosco that Angelo chose to accompany it.


Lisa said...


PTDC said...

I follow your blog avidly -- I love it, though I rarely comment. Based on your experience, can you recommend a few good refoscos or schioppettinos that are commercially available in the US (besides Rochi di Cialla, which I love)? I live in DC, which doesn't have as good distribution as NYC. I tried La Roncaia refosco 2006 tonight -- terrible wine! Too modern, too much oak, and 15% alcohol. No refosco character whatsoever. (Apparently the same team makes Ornellaia, so I guess I should have known.) Oh, well. Anyway, thanks!

David McDuff said...

Yum indeed, Lisa. Can't wait to get started in the test kitchen.

We visited Ronchi di Cialla today and their Schioppettini (2005, 2001, 1995 and 1985) were things of beauty. As for other options, if you can be patient for another couple of days I'll try to get you a few reasonable suggestions.

We did drink a very pleasing, if straightforward, Refosco from Livio Felluga at lunch today but, even from a large producer like Felluga, the wine isn't exported to the US.

More later...

PTDC said...


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