Friuli Wines with Nutmeg Braised Goat #ItalianFWT
Italian Food Wine & Travel Goes to Friuli-Venezia Giulia
From the far northwest of Valle d’Aosta, we jump over to the far northeast corner of modern Italy. Friuli-Venezia Giulia is know for some of the best, most distinctive white wines in Italy. There is also a culture of experimentation, including revisiting ancient vinification methods. Time to explore!
Friuli Region Food & Wine Reference
If you’d like to go deep into the culture, food and wine of the region, here’s your guide. Fred Plotkin does a great job of explaining traditions, foods and wines of the region. Much more than just a list of recipes, you’ll experience a virtual visit to Friuli.
Want to try an afternoon snack directly from the region? Search out some Montasio cheese and make frico. Really, all you need is grated cheese, extra virgin olive oil, a skillet and some filling. We tried apple frico (shown) and a savory potato-onion frico. Here’s all you need to know about Frico including the recipe. The wine in the photo above is Friulano, made from the Friulano grape (previously named Tocai Friulano). Labeling with the grape name is pretty unusual for Italy, so bask in the simplicity while you can! This one (from Kermit Lynch) was light bodied and crisp, perfect for cleansing the palate of all that crunchy, cheesy goodness.
Friuli Dinner Table
Here are a couple of insights into the table in Friuli-Venezia Giulia:
- Polenta was a staple of the Cucina Povera (poor kitchen). You’ll see it as a part of many regional dishes. Make sure you make a great polenta. Note: there is no such thing according to my wife, Julie.
- The region features both seafood from the area around Trieste as well as mountain foods from farther inland and north toward the Alps.
- Due to trade routes passing through, spices and flavors can come from far away, though the staple ingredients will be sourced locally.
- You’ll often see the major spices of the dish scattered outside the dish itself. The idea is to allow the diner to incorporate more of the key spice into the food if desired. What a great idea, and a new one for me.
- White wines include Pinot Grigio, Friulano, and Ribolla Gialla. Pinot Grigio here takes on a much more pronounced character and minerality; tasteless thin versions need not apply. Reds include Refosco, a refreshing lighter red wine, as well as Italian renditions of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
- A number of winegrowers in the region as well as neighboring Slovenia have embraced ancient methods for making white wines. This involves fermenting the wine just like a red wine, with extended contact with the skins. These wines are not for everyone, but they do provide both a look to the past and a new and different flavor profile.
Damijan Podversic Ribolla Gialla IGT 2009 ($60 at Thomas Liquors)
Eye: Dark, resiny orange color
Nose: Rich, tangerine rind, resin
Mouth: Medium body, rich medium+ tannins orange rind with a nice long finish. Skin fermented wines aren’t for everyone (Julie usually hates them), I’m a fan of well executed versions and this one is clearly in that category. With the body and tannins, the wine reads more like a red wine than a white wine. Make sure you serve the wine just a touch on the cool side, not cold.
From the winery:
Winemaking: Fermentation takes place in the skins in small conical section oak for 60-90 days. After fermentation, it is aged in barrels of 20 and 30 hl for 23 months and refined in bottle for 6 months.
Marco Felluga Merlot Varneri Collio DOC 2012 ($18 at Thomas Liquors)
Eye: A touch cloudy, possibly unfiltered. Opaque center to a brick red edge, barely warm toned.
Nose: Cherries, smoke, leather, & a bit of evergreen.
Mouth: Medium body, ripe but not overly so. Medium- tannins.
Nice enough, but not really impressive. Paled in comparison to skin fermented Ribolla Gialla.
From the winery:
The wine is 100% Merlot. The etymological roots of the world “Varneri” can be traced back to the Friulano word “neri”, meaning “black”, which has always been synonymous with red wine.
Ageing- twelve months in oak casks, followed by a refining period of approximately six months in the bottle. It has a deep red colour with light garnet tones. One the nose it is fresh and fruity with scents reminiscent of red-berry jam and cherries. In the mouth, it is rich and harmonious with a long finish.
Wine Pairing with Nutmeg Braised Goat
The braised goat in this dish has a rich, very slightly gamy flavor with some additional body from the pancetta. To my palette, braised dishes often pair very well with full bodied white wines. The contrast with the red/blue fruit flavors in red wine just miss the mark of an excellent pairing. The body of the wine is there, the fruit is a bit of a mismatch. The Damijan Podversic skin-fermented white wine has the body and texture to stand up to the rich meat flavors, and its unique citrus profile seems to be a better pairing to me. If you go with a traditional white wine, you’ll want to pick something full bodied!
Join Our #ItalianFWT Conversation
Here is a preview of what’s to come this Saturday:
- Singing Hills Goat Dairy – wonderful goats milk cheeses and occasional goat meat.
- Thomas Liquors – best Twin Cities source for wines from Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
- Surdyk’s Deli – Only local source for Montasio cheese.
This recipe is sized for a healthy 4 oz. portion of meat per person. Ingredients Instructions Polenta for 4 as part of a second course Ingredients Instructions
Nutmeg Braised Goat as a second course
Note: to truly appreciate polenta, it should be cooked for at least 1 hour. Don’t believe that “done in 15 minutes” advice!
This recipe is sized for a healthy 4 oz. portion of meat per person.
Polenta for 4 as part of a second course