In the Small Barrel… there’s the Picolìt!
This popular proverb has a long tradition: «in the small barrel there is good wine».
And if, before arriving in the barrel, the grapes are already ‘little’?
Among the tasty curiosities of the Friulian hills is the Picolìt, a native Friulian white grape variety. A common linguistic misunderstanding is associated with the idea of its root comes from pécol, friulan term for peduncle. So, a small peduncle. But not only.
The berries are also small, with thick and pruinose skin. Furthermore, due to the presence of a physiologically feminine hermaphrodite flower, the pollination is uneven and difficult, giving rise to scattered bunches. For this reason, it is common use to cultivate the Picolìt together with other varieties, in order to favor the pollination. This explains the small quantity of wine produced.
A lot of effort for its care and cultivation, however, is matched by an incomparable taste. Once ripened, the grape is of a unique sweetness both because of the scarcity of grapes on the bunch and because of the calcareous-marly terroir (the flysch) found in the area of the Udine and Gorizia hills, where this grape is cultivated for almost all.
Picolìt wine, whose first evidence of existence dates back to some eighteenth-century documents and the first evidence is dated 1682, due to the low productivity and the constant care required, is a real rarity. It is common the reputation that wants it the wine of princes and popes.
Also tiny is the area in which it is possible to produce the Picolìt with the denomination “DOCG Colli Orientali del Friuli”: a dozen municipalities in the province of Udine, scattered around Cividale, among which stands out Prepotto, known for the homonymous Schioppettino. Of great interest is the sub-area of Cialla, fraction of Prepotto, in which the percentage of Picolìt grapes used in the production of wine must be 100% (against the minimum of 85% of the rest of the DOCG), with an alcoholic strength of at least 16% (compared with 15% in the rest of the DOCG).
A ‘small grape’ is called a small barrel: the Picolìt is suitable for drying on plant or on trellis and is aged, for a minimum of 10 months, in barrique (minimum 22 months for the sub-area of Cialla).
The Picolìt has an intense yellow color, almost amber, charming and with golden hues.
The nose expresses an intense aroma of honey, yellow fruits and dried apricot. The aromas are strong, sweet, reminiscent of wildflower honey, yellow fruit jams, dried apricot. Sometimes there are notes of vanilla, particularly evident in the more refined versions.
The palate is sweet, never too sweet, warm, soft, harmonious, with exceptional but not always present hints of wood or slightly bitter almond aftertaste that surprises thanks to the velvety softness and long persistence.
The recommended serving temperature is 12°C.
A meditation wine to be tasted at the end of the meal, Picolìt can be served with seasoned cheeses, dry pastries or simply with lovely chatter between diners.