– Friuli, Italy
Second-generation winemaker and owner Stefano Novello manages his winery in Friuli Venezia Giulia, along the border of Slovenia in Colli Orientali del Friuli. The Colli Orientali is equally renowned for its reds, like the underrated Schioppettino, Refosco, and Merlot, and whites, like Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, and Pinot Grigio. It’s here where the orange wine wave originated, and Stefano’s, in particular, are known for their bright flavor profile and lack of oxidation.
Stefano rejected conventional winemaking after studying enology and decided to work according to biodynamic principles instead, using minimal intervention, spontaneous fermentation, and a minimum dosage of sulfites before bottling. He works with local materials like Slovenian oak to ensure his wines taste strictly of the region. Ronco Severo is one of the early members of ViniVeri, Italy’s first natural wine association.
The vineyards in Colli Orientali are distinguished by their sandstone and marl soil called “ponca” in Friulian. The ponca soil provides excellent water drainage, allowing the grapes to receive the perfect amount of moisture nearly year-round, ensuring full ripening of the grapes.
Despite skin contact, a characteristic of orange wines, Stefano’s orange wine retains its “typical” varietal expression and fresh flavor due to its lack of oxidation. These wines have high drinkability, pair perfectly with food, and are technically flawless. No funkiness is to be found in these wines, so to those who hunt for the fragrance of a barn, Ronco has nothing to offer. These are wines that will make even the ‘traditional wine drinker’ exclaim: “I can’t believe this is a natural wine!”
Nils Bugge, the Dutch distributor for Ronco Severo, says when asked for his recommended X-mas table wine: “Schioppettino is an undeserved obscure variety, that in Stefano’s version, never stops to delight me. It has the structure and complexity you want for an elaborate X-mas dinner. More importantly, despite its complexity, it is surprisingly easy to drink (a bottle). “
Cultivation: 7 ha
Production: 28,000 bottles/year
Varieties: Schioppettino, Refosco del Peduncolo Rosso, Merlot, Friulano, Ribolla Gialla and Pinot Grigio)
Certifications: Organic (not on the label)
Sulfites: < 40 mg/l