Italian Tocai: The Final Harvest!
Staff Writer - September 15, 2006
The Azienda Fantinel honored the ItalianTocai DOC wine and enologist Tibor Gal with a singular event: "Calcio diVino – La Triestina al lavoro nel vigneto Fantinel", or "Divine Soccer – The Triestina Soccer Team Harvesting the Fantinel Vineyard". (Please note that in Italian there is a play on words with 'divino' [divine] and 'di vino' [of wine], emphazied by the creative spelling 'diVino').
The harvest that took place at the Fantinel model vineyard of Borgo Tesis, in Tauriano di Spilimbergo, in the province of Treviso was an exceptional one. Here, in collaboration with the U.S. Triestina Calcio (Triestina Soccer Sport Union), the Fantinel family organized a unique event to celebrate the final harvest from which the Tocai Friulano DOC wine may be produced.
"Calcio diVino – La Triestina al lavoro nella vigna Fantinel" saw the soccer players of the home team from Trieste, split into groups facing each other in a bizarre competition celebrating the final vintage of the Italian Tocai. The goal of the event was to honor, not without regrets, the last harvest dedicated to the production of this DOC wine, produced with an Italian native grape. Because of a binding European Union rule, starting March 31, 2007 the Italian Tocai must now be called by a different name.
In addition, the event was dedicated to Tibor Gal, the famous Hungarian enologist who died tragically at 46, in a car accident in South Africa, on February 10, 2005.
In collaboration with Marco Fantinel, Tibor Gal thought up and organized an event entitled La Dolce Sfida (The Sweet Challenge), with which they wanted to highlight, and bring to the attention of the international wine world, how comparing the Hungarian Tockay, which makes sweet dessert wines, to the Tocai wines from Friuli, was clearly misleading. If a comparison was to be made at all, it should have been between the Tockay from Hungary and the Ramandolo and Picolit dessert wines from Friuli, which, by the way, were the wines tasted in wrapping up the Calcio diVino event.
The celebration offered the opportunity to highlight once more the strong commitmment to continue the argument in favor of Italian Tocai. This was in fact the motivation with which Riccardo Illy, president of the Friuli Venezia Giulia regional administration, was awarded a special prize, in recognition of his committment to defending this Denomination of Origin (DOC).
Illy said that the administration of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region will continue the struggle to keep the debate open, with the goal of revising the EU rule.
"The Fantinel family want to bring the Tocai cause to the attention of the media. First of all because of a sentimental link with a grape and a wine which has contributed to making the enology and gastronomy of Friuli known worldwide. In addition, this (provision) creates an economic problem as well," said Marco Fantinel, " though the EU refuses to see the rule as damaging to the Friuli vintners, who have produced this wine from the grape with the same name for centuries."
"In fact it will be commercially difficult to substitute the famed Tocai with a generic name, such as Friulano, in many wine lists around the world. (Tocai) remains one of the (enological) 'made in Italy' symbols. For this reason," reiterated Fantinel, "following the will of the great heart of Tibor Gal, we have had to eradicate Chardonnay vineyards at the Roncaia, our prime rate production estate of the Colli Orientali denomination, and substitute it with a SuperTocai clone, making use (during the winemaking process) of partially withered grapes, to comply with the enological style selected by Tibor itself, (in order) to characterize this high quality wine production."