Half of the frustration for American wine consumers when faced with new Italian wine varieties is usually pronunciation. This is most certainly the case with one of my new favorite geeky finds, this beautiful bottle, Ciso, made from Lambrusco a Foglia Frastagliata grapes. Say that ten times fast. Say it at all!
This wine comes from a very interesting group of producers in the Trentino region who call themselves “i Dolomitici” (loosely translated to “people of the Dolomites”). There are 11 producers in this group, all with their own vineyards and wineries. The Ciso wine is the only project they farm and vinify together, but it say the most about who they are and the work they do.
The Dolimitici favor a more natural approach to winemaking, focusing on authenticity and a sense of place in the wines and respectful, conscious, healthy methods of farming. Ciso is a wine born of this vision. It’s name comes from the name of the farmer who granted them these vines, Narisco, who went by the nickname “Ciso”. His wise, age-old farming practices ensured a healthy vineyard, co-planted with biodiversity and soil-health in mind. The vineyard is ungrafted, and over 100 years old- a testament to his mastery of farming the land.
The Ciso vineyard is in the southern-most part of Trentino inside the town of Avio. It contains 727 vines of Lambrusco a Foglia Frastagliata, which is a very old local grape that they use to produce an expressive, deep purple, dry still red wine. This variety is probably related to Lambrusco, perhaps most closely to the Lancellota clone, but it is a completely separate, unique variety.
“A Foglia Frastagliata” means “with a leaf that is jagged or indented“. As you can see from the picture, this is a marker for the variety. Difficult to pronounce perhaps, but aptly named.
I love stumbling on wines like these- Italy is full of them. Long-lost heirloom varieties and beautiful stories about the local personalities who farmed the land and kept tradition from fading away with technology. Don’t be afraid of the things you can’t pronounce. Just find an Italian friend to help you stumble through, or use an online pronunciation guide.
Better yet, don’t pronounce them at all- just taste them and let the wines speak for themselves.