My last meal at République was pretty outstanding. Duck liver mousse, hamachi crudo, roast chicken, braised short ribs - all delicious. I wondered if it would ever be possible to top that meal there. Then I was invited by the folks at Zuani Wines to come try a vertical tasting of their wine over a paired lunch at République. I think my previous meal just got trumped.
Zuani is a family-own winery and I got to meet some of the Italian-born family. Patrizia Felluga is carrying on the wine-making traditions of her family from 5 generations. She was as delightful and charming as her son Antonio, who also helps with the business, in addition to Antonio's sister Caterina who couldn't join. Someone has to run the show!
The Zuani estate is in the northeastern corner of Italy, 60 miles from Venice, in the DOC zone of Collio, where you can find about 100 other wineries making mostly white varietals. Patrizia and her children set-up shop in 2001, pleased with the location on a hillside that benefits from a temperate climate with warm days and cool nights.
Collio is a region where mostly single varietal wines are produced, but Zuani bucks the system and creates blends using local Fruilano, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Each grape is fermented and aged separately before the blending begins. The Zuani Vigne line is aged in stainless, while the Zuani Zuani Riserva sees some French oak and the grapes experience a slightly later picking time.
We tasted the Zuani Vigne line from newest to oldest - 2014, 2013 and 2012. It's amazing what a year can do. The 2014 youngster was as expected - bold, racy and in your face. As the wine aged, it most definitely matured, gaining more weight and deeper nuances, going with each course of our meal quite nicely. Of course the growing conditions were also different from year to year with a dry year in 2012, wet in '14, and '13 was just right, achieving a really nice balance of flavor and acid.
The Zuani Zuani Riserva 2013 and 2012 were rounder and more complex given the time spent in oak. These grapes are picked later so there's more sugar and alcohol, and could hold up to slightly more substantial dishes like pork belly with roasted apples.
I love that the Zuani wines are all sustainably produced. They have a lovely tasting room in Collio that I think I'm going to need to visit soon. With an on-site inn and restaurant, I may never leave!
I was a guest of Zuani Wines, but all opinions are always my own.