What: During my favorite time of the year – between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – I like to drink some of my favorite wines. But I also like to keep finding new favorites, and this week’s wine is one of those.
I have been trying to learn more about Italian wines because there are so many of them, and they are so good. Often they are made from grapes not familiar to Americans, but this Russiz Superiore comes from sauvignon blanc grapes. Some Italian producers call the grape just sauvignon.
The wine is a gorgeous straw yellow with tints of green in the glass. It has floral aromas with a hint of grapefruit. The wine drinks smoothly, with tastes of lemons and peaches that linger. It has more body than you expect from a white wine, with a velvety mouthfeel. A hint of mineral in the aftertaste no doubt comes from the mineral-rich soil of the region.
If you don’t like the strong grapefruit tastes found in some sauvignon blancs, this is the wine for you. It is full of rich fruit and lush tastes. While some Italian sauvignon blancs lean toward exotic fruit with accents of tomato leaf or herbs, I did not detect those flavors in the Russiz Superiore.
After the grapes are hand picked, they are de-stemmed and undergo a cold maceration at controlled temperatures. A gentle pressing separates the skin from the grapes. About 85 percent of the must is fermented in stainless steel vats while the rest is fermented is oak barrels. The wine is aged for eight months on the lees and at least one month in the bottle.
Located northeast of Venice in the northern part of Italy, the Collio was the third region to gain recognition as a DOC region in 1964. The climate is mild because it is only about 12 miles from the Adriatic Sea and is protected by the Alps. Cool breezes come from the Alps to offset hot summer days. The land is hilly, and each hill has its own microclimate, which promotes complexity in the wine.
Like many Italian wines, the Russiz Superiore evokes wonderful mental pictures when I drink it. While sipping it, I can see the gently rolling hillsides with the towering mountains on one side and the sparkling sea in the other direction. Or you can see the fortified hilltop towns that dot the countryside.
i know it’s mostly imagination, but many Italian wineries take seriously the mantra that the wine should reflect where the grapes are grown. That’s why the tastes of Italian wines vary so widely. That’s a good thing because you can keep sipping until you find the tastes you like.
Winery: Russiz Superiore is one of two wineries in the Collio DOC owned by the Felluga family. Marco Felluga is the other, founded in the 1950s in the fortified citadel of Gradisca d’Isonzo dating to the Venetian Republic.
In 1967, the Felluga family acquired Russiz Superiore, named in 1273 for its location on a high hill. The winery is considered the crown jewel of the family.
The vineyards are in an ideal location in the heart of the Collio. Mineral-rich soils and proximity to the Alps create an ideal setting for producing complex, well-structured wines.
As part of a wine-making dynasty dating back to the 1800s, the Felluga family is considered a pioneer in regional quality and innovation in the Collio region. Giovanni Felluga moved to Collio in the larger Fruili region in the 1930s to continue the family business of making wine. His son Marco stayed in the business but founded his own winery.
Fifth-generation winemaker Roberto Felluga now runs the operation, which controls more than 250 acres of land. While preserving the family’s heritage, the company embraces modern technology.
This wine is imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct. Its unique business model bypasses the traditional three-tier system and allows distributors to purchase and ship directly from the wineries, saving about 25 percent markup per bottle.
Goes With: Our family had this beautiful wine with the last of our Thanksgiving turkey, made into turkey noodle soup. It was a wonderful pairing.
The turkey soup has strong flavors, so it needed a white wine with some backbone. The Russiz Superiore had more than enough, but it didn’t overpower the soup either.
The wonderful citrus and peach flavors and the smooth, full-bodied mouthfeel balanced nicely with the turkey and herb flavors. The bottle of wine barely made it through dinner, we loved it so much.
My wife, Teri, is a particularly good critic of sauvignon blanc, because there are many bottles she doesn’t like. But the round, full flavor of this one had her smiling.
I put some extra turkey in the soup because I like soup with lots of meat. Besides the carcass from our Thanksgiving bird I added a turkey breast and some thighs, so there was plenty of meat. I boiled it all in water and canned turkey broth, stripped the meat from the bones and added onions, leeks, celery, carrots, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.
Except for taking the meat off the bones it’s an easy soup to make and very tasty. I also made noodles and let everyone add as much as they wanted to their bowls.
Russiz Superiore sauvignon also would go well with roast chicken, light fish, pasta in cream sauce and mild cheeses. It also is a good aperitif, served with nothing else. Serve it chilled.
- Wine tasting. 5-7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, Kroger, 435 Lewiston Road, Grovetown; new wines presented weekly; free; (706) 619-3420
- Wine and beer tasting. 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, and 3-6 p.m Saturday, Dec. 3, Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463
- Wine tasting. 5-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, Whole Foods, 2907 Washington Road; five wines with snacks; $5; (762) 333-0260
- Wine tasting. 5-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three whites, three reds and cheeses; $5; (803) 279-9522