July is a month that is decidedly American. Celebration of cookouts, independence, and heat waves remind us of why there is no better place to be than the US of A. However, let us cheer to another thing that America is best in: wine imports. And to celebrate that achievement, this month we are featuring two wines from Italy.

Just A Taste | St. James, MO | Wine Bar

“Frico” by Scarpetta

Scarpetta “Frico” Friulano 2018

Region: Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Grape Varietal(s): 100% Friulano

Viticulture: Tuscan crown and cordon trained vines over gravelly soil

Method: Light press before aging on lees in stainless steel, then fining and filtration

Serving suggestions: Serve chilled. Pair with summer nights, grilled white meat, and farm fresh greens

Age: Drink now through 2021

Tasting Notes: Star bright, with aromas of green apple and tart grapefruit, citrus zest and a bouquet of white flowers. Vibrant acidity remains crisp and clean.

About Scarpetta

Scarpetta was born from a love of food and wine within the confines of the notable French Laundry. The former wine director and Master Sommelier, Bobby Stuckey, along with chef de partie Lachlan Mackinno-Patterson sought to bring a taste of true Italian wine to their newest project underway in Colorado. Thus, Scarpetta was born to showcase the magnificent wines produced in the region of Friuli in Northeastern Italy.

About “Frico” Friulano

“Frico” is the fun side of Scarpetta, where they make everything from canned bubbles to oddball regional varietals. Friulano, so named for its fame and popularity in the village of Friuli, is most similar in profile to Sauvignon Blanc (where, in Chile, it was mistakenly called until the 1990s).  Great acidity with zesty citrus notes are dead giveaways to this Italian classic.

Why I’m Excited About This Wine

If we have chatted about wine before, there is a good chance that I have brought up my love of oddball varietals. Unique wines expand the palate by expressing distinct aroma and flavor. However, my favorite quality about these hidden gems is that they usually are a bargain, and it all comes down to name recognition. Cabernet Sauvignon might be the “king of grapes”, but bottles can cost a king’s ransom. Yet, for lesser known Friulano, it would be a challenge to find a bottle above $20. Another great reason to love Friulano comes down to its fantastic pairing ability. Stubborn greens like Brussels sprouts, artichoke, and cabbage can stump the best sommeliers, but Friulano is a surefire hit!

Just A Taste | St. James, MO | Wine Bar

G.D. Vajra

G.D. Vajra “CLARÉ J.C.” Nebbiolo 2018

Winemakers: Giuseppe Vaijra & the Vaijra family

Region: Italy, Piedmont, Langhe

Grape Varietal(s): 100% Nebbiolo

Viticulture: fruit sourced from several of Vaijra’s younger vineyards

Method: Approximately 20% whole cluster fermentation with short aging in stainless steel

Serving Suggestions: Serve slightly chilled during the warmer days, or pair with apertivos and BBQ.

Age: Drink now through 2021

Tasting Notes: Vibrant ruby with clean transparency, cherry and candied strawberries, rose petals, and sweet spice. Silky tannins, lively acidity, with smooth finish.

About G.D. Vajra

G.D. Vajra is located in Piedmont in the Northwest of Italy where Italian classics such as Barolo and Barbaresco reign supreme. In a village called Vergne, Vajra resides on some of the highest elevation land within the commune of Barolo. These higher elevation vineyards produce smaller yields, and the grapes themselves are thicker skinned while being smaller in size. Together, these factors combine to produce wines capable of great tannin and intense acidity (the trademark of quality for these local Italian wines). Vineyard plantings still in use date back to 1947, while the winery in its current iteration began operation in 1972. The first estate bottling took place in 1978, and the fourth familial generations of winemakers and grape growers still produces quality wine to this day. 

About “CLARÉ J.C.”

Wine is not always what it used to be. For many reasons, that is a good thing. The Romans sweetened wine with lead. The Germans only figured out how to achieve ripeness in Riesling on accident. For a time, the plague on Crete was better than the vino. However, sometimes a snapshot into the past can bring up old “recipes” and styles of wine from a different time. This is what “CLARÉ J.C.” aims to be. Nebbiolo did not always have a reputation for brash tannins and eye-watering acidity. A note unearthed from 1606 from the House of Savoia’s jeweler Gian Battista Croce gave insight to a wine made from Nebbiolo that was fresh, light, and crisp. G.D. Vajra hopes to capture this style and reimagine wine from another time. The name “CLARÉ J.C.” pays homage to the great American wine pioneer Thomas Jefferson, the same namesake for our downstairs cellar at Just A Taste, who upon visiting Piedmont in 1787 found Nebbiolo as “dry as Claret (the original wines of Bordeaux, think hearty rosé), sweet and lingering as Madeira, brisk as Champagne”.

Why I’m Excited About This Wine

I was fortunate enough to join Eric at a wine distributor’s tasting event in April 2018, where over 50 wineries and importers were in attendance. One stellar standout that we couldn’t stop babbling about was this fun and frisky newcomer Nebbiolo from G.D. Vajra. We were fortunate enough to bring in two cases that summer and quickly sold out. After returning to the same event this spring, “CLARÉ J.C.” again called out to us from the 200 wines being poured. We quickly snapped up nearly every case we could from the distributor. You’ll be hard pressed to find this wine anywhere else in the state, as I made sure to have Eric pick up every extra he could. When he gave me the guest feature to select the wines for July, I knew I’d have to share it with you.