Franco Terpin is tall, big-built and imposing. A jovial but soft-spoken, kindly-mannered guy. Whenever I’ve conversed with him at some trade fair, it’s always struck me how keen he is to explain his wines and their territory, Friuli’s Collio.
That’s where Franco Terpin’s vineyards are located – more precisely, at San Floriano del Collio, on the border with Slovenia: 10 hectares, a little under 25 acres, naturally managed. Terrain is lean: arenaceous marls rich in seashells and fossils, locally known as ponka, extremely suited to making great wines, particularly whites.
The Collio appellation, in fact, has a special affinity for white wines, and Franco Terpin’s production is no exception. Nonetheless, his range has a strong, distinctively personal character: no shining, transparent whites, such as are often found in the more industrial versions from the area.
Franco Terpin’s wines are dense, concentrated, richly extracted and macerated. The most characteristic varietals are Ribolla Gialla, Friulano [which the locals still call Tocai Friulano,] (Jakot), Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, besides the red varietals, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Whites are all vinified following similar protocols: spontaneous fermentation with several days’ skin contact for maximum extraction, fragrance and structure. Jakot hails from approx. 60-year-old vines and sees 10 days’ skin maceration in stainless steel, followed by a two-month sojourn in French oak barrels and 18 months’ fine-tuning in large oak barrels prior to bottling.
Jakot’s 2010 vintage is a delightful take on Friulano. The rich bouquet is reminiscent of acacia honey and dried fruit, notably apricots; the palate is layered and lively, with ponka soil’s very intense, savory and briny notes to perfectly balance the mellow nuances that recall gorse.
The wine’s slight tannins increase quaffability, while the very persistent finish shimmers with flavor and fruit. This is an all-around food wine to go with any fare, though particularly suited to fish-based dishes, especially medium-structured first courses or medium-seasoned cheese.
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