Nicolini

Who: Giorgio and Rossana Nicolini

Where: Istria

What grapes: Malvasia, Borgogna Nera, Piccola Nera, Vitovska

How many bottles: 5,000

Key facts: This is the smallest estate we import. Two hectares (one planted,) no outside workers, land inherited from grandparents. Fidelity to old methods and indigenous grapes is the guiding principle at Nicolini.


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Nicolini Malvasia Venezia Giulia IGT

Organic: not certified
Soil type: clay
Elevation: 180m, facing the gulf of Trieste
Grapes: Malvasia Istriana
Method of fermentation: hand harvested in small baskets, macerated on the skins for 36-48 hours, spontaneous native yeast fermentation, traditional hand-crank press, aged eight months in large oak barrels, bottled unfiltered w/less than 50mg/l of total sulfur
Bottles made: 2,000

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Nicolini Bianco “Ambrosia”
 

Organic: not certified
Soil type: clay
Elevation: 180m
Grapes: Malvasia
Method of fermentation: hand harvested in small baskets, macerated on the skins for 36-48 hours, spontaneous native yeast fermentation, traditional hand-crank press, aged eight months in large oak barrels, bottled unfiltered w/less than 50mg/l of total sulfur

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Nicolini Rosso

Organic: not certified
Soil type: clay
Elevation: 180m
Grapes: Borgogna Nera Istriana
Method of fermentation: Method of fermentation: hand harvested in small baskets,macerated on the skins for 48-72 hours, spontaneous native yeast fermentation, traditional hand-crank press, aged eight months in large oak barrels, bottled unfiltered w/less than 50mg/l of total sulfur
Bottles made: 1,000

Also available:

Nicolini Vitovska Venezia Giulia IGT

Organic: not certified
Soil type: clay
Elevation: 180m
Grapes: Vitovska
Method of fermentation: hand harvested in small baskets, macerated on the skins for 36-48 hours, spontaneous native yeast fermentation, traditional hand-crank press, bottled unfiltered
Bottles made: 500

Nicolini Piccola Nera delle Venezie IGT

Organic: not certified
Soil type: clay
Elevation: 180m
Grapes: Piccola Nera
Method of fermentation: hand harvested in small baskets, macerated on the skins for 48-72 hours, spontaneous native yeast fermentation, traditional hand-crank press, aged eight months in large oak barrels, bottled unfiltered w/less than 50mg/l of total sulfur
Bottles made: 500


I made it just into Muggia when my phone rang. Rossana Nicolini: “tell me where you are and we’ll come get you because it’s too difficult to explain how to get to our house”. So I do and so they come get me. I follow Giorgio’s Alfa into the hills. Little dog Nicolini  greets me enthusiastically at the gate. I’m invited into the house. At some point son Eugenio shows up, just back from a quick ski trip two hours north. We sit around the dining room table for three hours and talk, in four languages. And eat, of course. Merluza, pork, cheese, anchovies and chocolate. And drink, of course. Malvasia, Refosco, Rosso Nicolini, Eugenio (moscato secco) and two kinds of Grappa: Moscato and Refosco. Delicious, all of it.

“Two sheets to the wind” neighbor Mauro joins us for a few rounds. Turns out he’s the owner of the B&B that I’ve been invited to stay at. He speaks four languages, too, sort of. None that I recognize. I’m toast. Done for the night. Giorgio, Rossana and Eugenio guide me to my room and say goodnight. We agree to meet at 9 am to see the vineyards and visit the cantina. Before I turn in I step outside to take a deep breath of crisp cold air and enjoy the night view of the port of Trieste.

Buono note

By the time I make it down to the dining room Mauro has already commenced the intake of his liquid breakfast. The Bialetti does not give him any trouble and the coffee is good. So is the date pastry. I’m ready for short tour of the vineyard. Rossana is ready, too.

The low cloud cover makes everything look kinda grey, the port of Trieste obscured in fog but I can clearly make out the difference between the south facing and north facing slopes of this hill. Nice old vines on both sides. Good, thick ground cover. Just two hectares of vineyard.

Giorgio shows me the addition to the cellar that he’s building. The existing cellar is small but big enough for the few barriques and stainless tanks. He would love to double his property and make more wine. All in due time….

He tells me that both Rossana and he are retired Electric Utility Company workers. She in administration, he engineering. A total of five people run this operation; Giorgio, Rossana, Eugenio, Dad and a person that helps out in the vineyard.

We walk over to the cantina and meet his dad on the way. Big smile, a healthy looking 70-something year old.

The cantina is cozy. A table is set up with five or six bottles of wine, glasses, cheese, proscuito, bread and the home made preserved anchovies are there again, too. While tasting the 2011 Vitovska, Giorgio tells me that he personally brought back this native variety to this (Italian) side of the hill, from Slovenia. It is delicious. Refreshing, bright and mildly floral. Perfect with fish, shellfish or mushrooms, Giorgio says. The 2012 vintage will be all of 400 bottles. Pre order up to 250, before the first full moon in March.

All of Giorgio’s wines are great. Lots of personality without being funky.

When I want to taste the Refosco, Giorgio brings out a plate of sauerkraut with what looks like bratwurst. Perfect!

I’m well fed, it’s 12:30pm, time to get on the road towards Gorizia.

We say goodbye and promise to be in touch.