Franco Terpin “Jakot”
Delle Venzie IGT 2009
The political map of Italy is a marvelous and dizzying thing. For the average American, the mental picture of Italy is that of… well… a boot. Rewind the clock to the early 20th Century and the picture changes drastically, particularly in the north. Go back even further in time and you’d need an advanced degree to understand the borders and regions.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the northeast corner of Italy, is a region whose borders were constantly in-flux between the two World Wars. Italy, Yugoslavia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire all laid claims to various parts of Friuli and its neighbors to the east. The Italian borders have been consistent for some 60 years now, but Croatia and Slovenia have had more fluid borders as the political fortunes of Yugoslavia changed. Like the Catalonians whose culture spans both France and Spain, winemakers in Friuli share strong cultural bonds with their brethren in neighboring states.
Nestled in the hills of San Floriano del Collio, in Gorizia, are Franco Terpin’s 10 hectares of vineyard land less than 1km from Slovenia. Terpin makes a number of delicious wines, but this month we are focused on a favorite offering: the “Jakot.” Jakot may seem like an odd word, perhaps a local dialectical term, until you turn it around… Indeed, Tokaj will probably ring a few bells. Perhaps you know the amazing sweet wine of Hungary, or remember drinking a Tokai Pinot Grigio while on vacation in Strasbourg. Without getting into the boring details of European Trade Law, the term “Tokaj” is now protected, which means various traditions of wine labeling have been upended over the last decade, forcing the Friulians (among others) to rename what was once a wine closely associated with their region. In the spirit of rebellion, a number of local producers began labelling some of their wines “Jakot” our of protest.
Trepan’s Jakot 2009 vintage is made entirely from the (Tocai) Friulano varietal, one of the most important and heralded grapes of Friuli. Macerated on its skin for 7 days, the Jakot falls under the category of orange wine. Those 7 days of skin contact imbue the wine with breathtaking aromatic complexity, along with a textural heft that is generally impossible to find in white wines produced in the standard fashion. Contributing to the vibrancy of the wine is the advanced age of the vines (60 years!), planted in Opoka soils, which contain high concentrations of marlstone and fossilized sea shells. After fermentation in stainless steel, the wine spends time in French barrique, followed by a year each of rest in large Hungarian botti and then bottle.
In the glass, the wine is a bit cloudy but there is a brilliance reflected in the golden hue, a direct result of the skin contact process whereby the color compounds in the skin (along with aromatic, flavor and textural molecules) permeate the wine. On the nose, the wine shows ripe stone fruits, underpinned hints of almond skin and hay. The palate is bright and vibrant, with balanced acidity, white peach, umami notes and a finish that reflects both minerality from the soil and the tannins from the skin. This is an incredibly versatile wine, and is especially suitable for pairing with many of the pastas on the Babbo menu. You can enjoy this Friulian gem all month by the quartino, only at Babbo.