It was not so long ago that Friuli was almost exclusively a red wine region. Then, about fifty years ago, the move to white began. There was clearing and grubbing until the region could develop into the Italian centre of white wine. The local "Ribolla Nera" (Schioppettino) and similar old grape varieties no longer stood a chance. Red wine also had to be adapted to the "taste of the times": Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, international grape varieties, are now the dominant red grapes in Friuli. They are the basis for the red flagship wines of the region. The Montsclapade is such a wine, a "Bordeaux Blend", 60 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 40 % Merlot, matured in French barriques. It needs bottle ageing and only reaches its actual drinking maturity after five or more years.
I once bought this 2000 to "smuggle" it into a Bordeaux tasting as a "pirate". But it seemed to me at the time to be too little "Bordeaux-like", too soft, too non-committal in its aromas. So it had to rest in the cellar - in the middle of the Bordeaux - until I poured it yesterday - pure curiosity - after all (without Bordeaux tasting). But it wasn't a Bordeaux yesterday either Perhaps Bordeaux is not so easy to transport to the Colli Orientali del Friuli (the eastern hills of Friuli) in the extreme north-east of Italy. Maybe it doesn't have the strength to survive 14 years of ageing after all. In any case, the wine is gentle, soft, perhaps even seductive. But it lacks that certain something that ultimately makes Bordeaux blends - as different as they may be - very special, unique. Is the terroir more decisive than what is ultimately made from the same grape varieties during vinification in the cellar? I am tempted to assert this more and more vigorously.