Looking for some of Italy’s most interesting and exciting wines? Look no further than eastern Italy near the border with Slovenia says Italian wine expert Ian D’Agata.
And which winery has really caught his attention?
Based in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy, Vigna Petrussa, says renowned Italian wine expert Ian D’Agata is “one of Italy’s best and most under the radar estates.”
Praising the producer’s winemaker-vigneron Hilde Petrussa for a “great passion for her craft” he gave all of her wines 90+ point ratings in a January 2020 article in Vinous.
In a press release, VeroVino importer Sheila Donahue says, “These accolades…confirm that focusing on small, passionate producers like Vigna Petrussa makes sense, and underscores the value that VeroVino is bringing forth to those seeking interesting, hard-to-find wines, and olive oils, made in a sustainable way…It is particularly gratifying, as a woman wine professional and entrepreneur, to be supporting women winemakers, like Hilde Petrussa, whose passion and hard work lead to such favorable recognition, and are making history as we speak.”
So no surprise when I first approached Shiela Donahue about this month’s Italian Food Wine Travel prompt to write about Italian Sheroes– women in wine in Italy who are heroes– she immediately thought of Hilde Petrussa, and her story and her wines.
Hilde took over for her mother as head woman winemaker-vigneron in 1995, but Hilde wanted to focus on indigenous grapes and high quality– and so she has, making a name for herself.
- Crab Sushi
- cheese plate
- Caprese bites (tomato slice with mozzarella and pesto on top)
- Artichoke with a lemon mayo dipping sauce
- Shrimp risotto
- Polenta topped with Italian sausage, mushrooms. spinach, and fried salami
- Ferrero collection chocolates
Vigna Petrussa Wines
samples received for my review consideration; no compensation; opinions are my own
2018 Ribolla Giulia SRP $26
2017 Friulano Friuli Coli Orientali SRP $26
2016 Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso SRP $32
2016 Friuli Colli Orientali Schioppettino Di Prepotto SRP $37
2015 Friuli Colli Orientali Schioppettino di Prepotto Riserva SRP $45
Hilde learned to make wine from her mother, instead of being by the book; she is very creative with her wine making. She wants the wine to express the terroir.
Both white wines are on the lees.
2018 Vigna Petrussa Ribolla Giulia
13% alcohol SRP $26
Color: Light gold, buttercup
Nose: Ocean, grass, sage, minerals, lemongrass, very fresh
Palate: Lots of acidity, it is a surprising grape, when it hits your palate, you wonder what is this wine. It is similar to Sauvignon Blanc but it is not at all like Sauvignon, very lemony, lemon pith on the finish.
Fresh and refreshing as a mountain stream…
Pairing: We thought about calamari as a great pairing. With the sushi, it makes the rice sweeter and the sushi makes the wine pop a bit more. With the Frico, it’s too greasy and oily maybe a bit too salty as well as it overwhelms the wine. Great with the caprese bites and works really well with the artichoke and lemon mayo dipping sauce.
Fantastic with the shrimp risotto, the parsley and the wine dance beautifully together.
The polenta dish made the wine very lemony and was nice with the sausage in the dish, but Sue did not care for the wine with the mushrooms in the dish.
2017 Friulano – Friuli Coli Orientali
Color: Pale greenish yellow
Nose: Rich nose, florals and bee pollen, hint of petrol, light sulphur, not funky though
Palate: It stimulates the tastebuds, but also has a smooth viscous mouthfeel. It is a juicy wine in that it makes one salivate. There is a long lengthy finish, lemony, bright
Pairing: With the tomato caprese with pesto, it took the nose away from the wine. The sushi, gives a sweetness to the wine. The wine cuts through the greasy richness of the melted cheese and welcomed the saltiness of the potatoes in the frico as well as the fried salami. Sue enjoyed the caprese bites even more with this wine than the Ribolla Giulia. Something about the Italian parsley brings out the flavors in the wine and enhances the creamy risotto. which in turn brings out a sweetness to the wine that is not there without the pairing.
The layers of the sea work dynamically: the dish and the wine are elevated when tasted together. The Friulano is a very versatile wine that can handle a meal from the beginning to the end.
2016 Vigna Petrussa Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso
13.5% alcohol SRP $32
For this wine, Hilde dries out the grapes before fermentation.
Color: Dense burgundy, with a light rose/mauve rim
Nose: Eucalyptus, sage, plum, pipe tobacco, cherry, a bit of alcohol.
Palate: Bright tart cherry, mouthwatering tart, great texture, leathery, acidity and minerals, citrus on the back maybe blood orange, lemon richola
Pairing: Great with the polenta dish. It likes the spicy italian sausage and the creaminess of the polenta. Sue wasn’t expecting it to go well with the artichoke, but was surprised at how well she liked it. They really did go together, even with the lemon mayo dipping sauce.
While you would not normally pair a red wine with a seafood dish, this wine enjoys the creaminess of the risotto.
With the Frico, the wine cut through the richness of the dish. The Refosco really elevates the polenta dish making the mushrooms so much more complex, the wine has a bit more of vivacious fruit when paired with this meal. Yummy with the caprese bites as well.
2016 – Friuli Colli Orientali – Vigna Petrussa – Schioppettino Di Prepotto
13.5% alcohol SRP $37
Sheila explained that
- Schioppettino means to explode, and while eating the grape, the flavor explodes in your mouth.
- It’s also known as Ribola Nera.
- There are Slovenian names for the grape as well.
- The grape has a characteristic of black pepper usually.
- Prepotto is the birthplace of Schioppettino.
- The grape was basically extinct until it was rescued.
- It is still quite rare.
Color: Medium density, looks like cherry cola to Sue, clear rim
Nose: Minerality, and herbs, earth, then a bit of fruit, sweet basil, licorice
Palate: Salinity, minerality, and earth, tart fruit, leather, long lingering mineral finish. Black pepper, and a picante feeling in your mouth.
With food on the palate, the wine changes, it is dark cocoa nibs, dried cherry bits covered in dark chocolate.
Pairing: Oh my goodness, it was so good with the artichoke dipped in the lemon mayo sauce. Who would have thought that a red wine would go so well with an artichoke dipped in a lemon sauce? Even though there was such tart citrus flavor profiles in the dish, the Schioppettino was enhanced by the dish and tamed the tart lemony flavors and at the same time, the dish brought out lovely fruit in the wine. Fantastic with the risotto as well. It loves the salt in the dishes. Great with the salt cured olives.
We imagined that it would go well with a tapenade. Bring on the cured meats– It may even work with a prosciutto wrapped melon. While the wine went with so many things in the meal, the sausage in the polenta was a perfect pairing.
For Shelia her favorite pairing of the evening was the Shioppettino with the polenta. The wine was enhanced with the peppers, (picante aspects) in both the wine and the food.
2015 Friuli Colli Orientali Schioppettino di Prepotto Riserva
13.5% alcohol SRP $45
The Riserva is aged longer, and grapes are more carefully selected. Hilde also starts a yeast fermentation with the grapes — foot of the cuvee–as a way of creating the wild yeast. Aged in new toneau, the big huge barrels, while in the non reserva, the toneau has been used.
Color: Medium density; to Sue it looked a lot like root beer, brownish red, rose mauve rim.
Nose: A bit of sulphuric funk, rose florals, red fruit, raspberry and cherry, menthol, a bit of baking spice as well.
Palate: Satiny mouthfeel, the herbs came across up front for Sue, cherry cola on the finish, there is a long lingering finish.
Pairing: Nice caprese bites. It liked the richness and the salinity in the Frico. Super great with the artichoke (which is not a pairing that one would normally think as being great with a red wine), but this is a fabulous pairing. Shelia liked this wine the best with the salami, I found it to be fantastic with the fried salami in the polenta dish. Even with the salami on the cheese plate, it is fantastic. Sue was also so surprised with how well the wine went with the risotto, but for me it was not floating my boat. I wanted to go back to the salami. While we had a really nice quality chocolate with this wine, we all felt that the wine was a bit too tanic with the wine.
2018 – Venezia Giulia – Desiderio
14% alcohol SRP $35 (split)
Grapes are grown on marl soils that date back millions of years to the Eocene Era. Hilde dries the hand harvested grapes “passito” style then ages the wines in French oak barriques for at least a year, possibly two. Picolite is really hard to grow, because it does not flower properly, there is a lot of work to making the grape grow.
Color: Super golden, lightly orange.
Nose: Butterscotch, butter, pollen, bee pollen, herbal menthol, horehound , cough drop, decomposing wood, wood chips, did we say butterscotch? Ponderosa pines, apricot, dried Turkish apricot, almonds.
Palate: For Sue, the apricot came through on the palate right away, there is also a bit of the ponderosa pine that comes through on the palate on the finish, along with the vitamin C of the pine needles and the richness of the nut. The sweetness of the butterscotch flavor lingers on in the finish.
Pairing: Sue enjoyed the Venzia Giulia with the dark chocolate candies, but found it to be fantastic with the toasted coconut; Shelia also loved it with the coconut as well. I liked it with the dark chocolate, but found it to be best with the milk chocolate which brought out orange blossom, candied orange and candied fruit which I liked it the best. Sue found the milk chocolate to be just a bit too sweet to make a perfect pairing, but then again, I am not one to appreciate coconut, which she and Shelia thought was fantastic. The nutty richness went so well with Desiderio.
One of Shelia’s most important goals is to introduce people to wines that they have never tried before. Thank you Sheila for sharing this goal with me so I can share these wines with you! I just wish there was more time to talk more about these amazing wines in this post but the focus is on the SHEROES like Hilde as well as her wines and her importer Sheila!
I can say confidently that Sheila is indeed meeting her goal by sharing with the world these special and unusual grapes made by an extrodineary vintner who happens to be a woman, Hilde.
Happy Women’s History Month! More about Sheila in Part 2 coming up tomorrow!
Who else is exploring this topic this month? 15 wine bloggers will publish an article by Saturday March 7 at 8am on the following:
- Cam at Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs Crab and Cambozola-Stuffed Arancini + Poggio al Tesoro Solosole Vermentino 2018 #ItalianFWT
- Cam at Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs Ribollita + Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino 2016 #ItalianFWT
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest introduces Women In Italian Wine: Meet Mateja Gravner #ItalianFWT
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass tells Punset wines: the story of one woman’s perseverance #ItalianFWT
- Marcia at Joy of Wine shows Tiberio: Passion For the Land & its Native Grapes #ItalianFWT
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm pairs Italian Roasted Chicken with a Gianni Brunelli Rosso di Montalcino #ItalianFWT
- David at Cooking Chat pairs Ground Turkey Bolognese with Wine from Anna Maria #ItalianFWT
- Susannah at Avvinare shows Spotlight on Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the Consortium’s New President – Irina Guicciardini Strozzi #ItalianFWT
- Jennifer at Vino Travels presents Italian Women in the Wine Industry Featuring Maso Martis #ItalianFWT
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! presents Italian Women in Wine – Cantina Marilina #ItalianFWT
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen says Don’t Judge a Wine by its Label unless it’s Mustilli #ItalianFWT
- Terri at Our Good Life presents Women in Wine: Meet Kelly from Twin Meadows Winery #ItalianFWT
- Here at Wine Predator we have Women to Watch in Wine: Vigna Petrussa and VeroVino Part 1 #ItalianFWT and soon I’ll have Part 2!
- Nicole at Somm’s Table shares Passion and Authenticity in Abruzzo: A Conversation with Cristiana Tiberio of Az. Agr. Tiberio(#ItalianFWT)
- Nicole at Somm’s Table shares Cooking to the Wine: Tiberio Pecorino & Saffron Chickpea Stew with Seafood #ItalianFWT
- Host Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairings says Cheers to Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino Produced from Women Flagship – Casato Prime Donne #ItalianFW
Our twitter chat on this topic takes place Saturday March 7 from 8-9am Pacific time. We will be discussing the following topics:
3/7/2020 11:00 a.m. EST
Welcome to the #ItalianFWT chat on Female owned wineries and Female Winemakers in Italy. Introduce yourself, and where you are tweeting from. Share a link to your blog if applicable.
3/7/2020 11:07 a.m. EST
Q1 We are talking about Female owned wineries and Female Winemakers in Italy this morning for today’s #ItalianFWT. Was it easy for you to locate an Italian wine from a female owned winery or a female winemaker?
3/7/2020 11:14 a.m. EST
Q2 The stories behind these female wine heroes or protagonists are everything for this month’s theme. How did they start their journey (e.g., family affairs, inheritance, viticulture and enology educations, networking)? #ItalianFWT
3/7/2020 11:21 a.m. EST
Q3 What did your featured female inspire you? #ItalianFWT
3/7/2020 11:28 a.m. EST
Q4.Which wine(s) did you open from this female owned winery or female winemaker? Share a picture and your tasting notes. #ItalianFWT
3/7/2020 11:35 a.m. EST
Q5 What dish did you prepare? How was the pairing? Share a link or photo with #ItalianFWT
3/7/2020 11:42 a.m. EST
Q6 #ItalianFWT participants, have you been to this female-operated winery/vineyard or met the female owner/winemaker? If so, how was the experience?
3/7/2020 11:49 a.m. EST
Q7 Do you think highlighting the “female” aspect of the winery or winemaking helps sell their wines? #ItalianFWT
3/7/2020 11:50 a.m. EST
Q8 How can men and women in the wine industry all over the world learn from these female wine heroes in Italy? #ItalianFWT
3/7/2020 11:57 a.m. EST
Q9 #ItalianFWT Any final thoughts about Female owned wineries and Female Winemakers in Italy? Are you excited to take a trip to meet these female wine heroes (maybe after the coronavirus outbreak)?
3/7/2020 11:59 a.m. EST
Next month #ItalianFWT will be focusing on Brachetto d’Acqui hosted by @GrapeExp_Cindy. Join us!
3/7/2020 12:00 p.m. EST
Thanks for joining #ItalianFWT to chat about Female owned wineries and Female Winemakers in Italy. Enjoy the weekend!
Great post! I definitely will look up Vigna Petrussa in NJ. The Friulano – Friuli Coli Orientali really caught my attention. I tasted a Friulano in an event last week. Like this wine a lot.
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Thank you! All of the wines were amazing. You should totally put this winery on your radar!
Gwendolyn, I’m not sure if my comment came up, so if this is a duplicate, please delete it! I met Hilde a few years when visiting FVG and here wines were stars! She had her Picolit out which of course is Ian D’Agata’s favourite grape, and her Picolit is one of the best! I’m glad you got to try it! Same with the Schioppettino! The native grapes from FVG are some of my favourites, so I’m glad you featured them along with Vigna Petrussa! And oh yes, I know Sheila too! Hi Sheila!
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Thanks for persevering and commenting! Yes I would love to try her Picolit! It was great to try the range of wines– I definitely fell in love! I’d really only had pinot grigio from that region before.
A new wine for me to seek out and, as always, I’m wishing I could be at one of your wine pairing feasts.
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Definitely check out the wines– you’ll love how they pair with food!
I honed right in on the creamy risotto and Ribolla Giulia. But the artichoke and Refosco and Schioppettino. Another winning food and wine pairing Gwendolyn. You are lucky to have a great source for interesting Italian wines!
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Time and again we are surprised by artichokes and Italian wines! And yes indeed we are so lucky that Sheila is bringing these wines into the US, that several stores are carrying her wines locally plus I have the warehouse direct connection!
What an amazing feast with so many courses of food and wines. Whoa.
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And the key was keeping it simple and easy for a week night… Sue is amazing! And the wines were such a treat…
Looking to expand my repertoire of northern Italian indigenous grapes, so this would be a great place to start. You’re lucky to have Sue Hill to prepare such eye-catching and delicious feasts!
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Yes these are great wines for that! And I am fortunate to have Sue’s help in the kitchen and at the table as we taste the wines and take notes!
By total coincidence I got to try some of these wines and meet Sheila at a seminar Ian d’Agata did in SF over the weekend! Beautiful wines and great share!
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Wow, I would have loved to have attended that seminar! Lucky you! The wines are fabulous!