Whites from an Eagle’s Nest: Aquila Del Torre

This natural amphitheater vineyard is like an eagle’s nest perched on in the northeast corner of Italy in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. The name, Aquila Del Torre, means Eagle of the Torre (River). The Ciani family, who owns the vineyard, is renown for the local dessert wine, Picolit, a passito wine made from the native variety Picolit.

Claudio Ciani, left, who founded the vineyard has been giving more responsibility to his son, Michele, and daughter, Francesca (not pictured here). Michele is building on tradition while innovating. He has changed to organic methods and has started an experiment of making dry Picolit, Aquila Del Torre Oasi Friuli Venezia Giulia IGT which we tasted along with local cheeses. It was very crisp from the minerality in the soil here (more below), with delicate aromas and flavors.
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Michele took me from the house and cellar up into the vineyards where it felt like we were on top of the world, the Julian Alps covered with snow in Mid-March even though spring is on the way, and the river valley of the Judrio spread out below us. Here he explained that difference in altitude and temperature between the mountains and the river valley below creates air flows up and down the hillside along with large fluctuations between day and night time temperatures (sometimes as much as 65 degrees Farenheit). These fluctuations add flavor, color and depth to the grapes.

The soil of the vineyards is flysch (also known as ponca) that 55 million years ago was pushed from the bottom of sea into these hills. Every time it rains and water passes through the soil, minerals from old sea shells are released into the soil, giving all the wines a kind of crispness (minerality) that complements the acidity in the grapes (but is not the same thing at all).

At this high altitude, Michele, has realized that in addition to traditional varieties like Friuliano and Refosco dal Penducolo Rosso, he has an ideal spot for Reisling.

The Ciani’s also offer charming rooms in their B and B. This special corner of Italy is still largely undiscovered but spectacularly beautiful and full of fascinating history. (read more in data base)

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