Prepotto, a commune about 50km northwest of Trieste in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, very close to the Slovenian border, is the beating heart of Schioppettino.
It was here that this old local variety was rescued from extinction in the 1970s by the mayor of Prepotto, along with Paolo and Dina Rapuzzi from neighbouring Cialla. Rapuzzi found vines in the mayor's garden and, because the variety was not at that time officially authorised, had the cuttings secretly grafted at a local nursery.
In 1987 the wine was awarded DOC status and today there are about 150ha of Schioppettino planted. So enthusiastic are the local producers that their association of 20 members - Schioppettino di Prepotto – holds a festival in the town every May.
The name is said to derive from the Italian word meaning 'to crackle' because the thick-skinned berries crackle in the mouth.
The wines are deep ruby in colour, distinctively fresh and fragrant, with aromas and flavours of pepper and wild red and black berries, plus fine tannins. Try Ronchi di Cialla (the Rapuzzi family winery), La Viarte or Antico Broilo. For a full list of producers, see www.schioppettinodiprepotto.it.
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz; www.winegrapes.org
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