Pitars – a modern winery in an ancient town
Pitars Winery comes out of the low slung houses of the town of San Marino al Taliamento, nestled in the heart of the Friuli wine region of Italy.
The Pittaro family has been making wine in Friuli since 1880, with Roman origins going back to 1510. The passion of this family for the Fruiliano wine culture is clear, and Pitars expresses this passion beautifully.
Pitars is both near the alps and the Adriatic sea, as well as the largest river in the region, giving a rich combination of stony and alluvial soil. The closer you get to the sea, the more limestone is present in the soil, making it the perfect location to grow the white wines of Friuli.
As many wine lovers know, the poorer the soil, often the better the wine. Being in such a rocky and stone filled area, it’s a difficult task to grow crops, but a wonderful place to grow grapes. Here in San Marino, there was a wine revolution in the 1960s, and now they are known world wide as a source for clonal development and vines.
Pitars has 140 hectares of vineyards, and is primarily estate bottled, but they do buy some fruit as well. While they bottle 1/2 – 1/3 of their total production, much of the fruit is sold to large producers.
A unique point about the winery and operation is that they are one of the greenest wineries in Friuli. With solar power providing 90% of the electricity to the tasting room, this covers the energy bill for 9 months of the year. Additionally, they are pursuing biodynamic and organic methods, using birds and insects, as well as other sustainable practices.
After touring the property, we sat down to taste through the wines. First off, we had a side by side of sparkling wines. The Ribolla Gialla Spumante Blanc was bursting with green apple and bright citrus, and was a refreshing departure. Comparatively, the classic Prosecco was light and crisp, with a touch of sweetness on the finish. While I enjoyed them both, I actually kept a glass of the sparkling Ribolla as a palate cleanser on hand as we sipped away the afternoon.
Next up, the Tureis IGT, is a blend of the classic Friulano, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Pitars names it’s flagship wines after stars, and Tureis is the Arabic name for a binary star system. The symbol of the star system and a white blend is beautiful to me. This wine was vinified separately, with the Chardonnay being barrel aged for 16 months. The deep golden color had caramel and honeysuckle notes, with tropical fruit and a richness. It was quite and interesting blend, and would be great with a richer fish dish.
Named after another star, the Naos is a brilliant ruby red blend, made of Refosco, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. (Did I say Cabernet Franc? YUM!) The process for this wine is unique in that the grapes are actually dried slightly before vilification, creating an intensity of flavor that you don’t normally expect. This dark brooding wine had lots of espresso flavors followed by black pepper, dark plum, leather, and blackberry.
As luck would have it, our gracious host also opened several other wines for us to try. Most notably, the Cabernet Franc, which aside from being a personal favorite of mine was simply delicious.