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Fulvio Luca Bressan is the ninth generation of master winemaker to tend this tiny vineyard dating back to the 1600s in this historically rich corner of Italy.

The Bressan Mastri Voinai Winery is a study in extremes–from the harsh climate to an aggressively individualistic approach to winemaking and the devotion to the purity of the grape vines and the craft itself.

But the great news for us is that the wine itself is a beauty and a perfect medium to unlock some facts about this interesting corner of the world.

Check out the family website…They tell their story with interspersed tales of Roman rule, the ‘Fruilian’ Celts coming from the woods to vanquish the Romans and yarns of occupation and conquest from the Huns at these crossroads of the ancient world.

Screen shot 2010-04-17 at 11.51.17 AMThe Bressan Winery is in the town of Mariano del Fruili in the Friuili-Venezia Giulia appellation in North-Eastern Italy on the border of Slovenia. This unusual and tasty terroir is created by the sloping vineyards of the Isonzo River Valley, shielded to the north by the Julian Alps and open to the hot winds of the Adriatic Sea from the south. This protected ‘hot spot’ in a harsh climate allows the grapes to mature early but sparsely, and defines the character of the wine with medium acidity and deep natural tannins.

This is a powerful bottle of red wine.

Schioppenttino (also known as Ribolla Nera) is an indigenous grape grown by just a few winemakers. It makes a deep, rich and complex wine that in the hands of a natural wine producer like Bressan takes on an earthy undertone with an impossibly long finish. Terrific wine with food. I’ve been drinking this instead of Cabs and it is my new choice when I need a big, bold red.

To clarify Bressan’s relationship to organic, he believes that the rules are not stringent enough. Only indigenous grapes and yeasts, biodynamic vineyards, no irrigation, manual harvesting, no sulfites and no filtration.

With this winemaker you are drinking the land as it is.

Bressan, like a few other living wine makers, dedicates the wine to the terroir and to a process of letting the grape live in the wine. If you choose to believe that you can taste extremes…fruity but complex, rich with reserved alcohol levels, and just a smack of freshness on the palate, this bottle is worth an evening of your time.

Try this bottle from an intriguing winemaker with history interwoven in the grapes themselves.

Average price is $35.99. I bought mine from Chambers Street Wines in TriBeCa NYC.