The modern story of Schioppettino is quite wonderful. This grape, never grown outside the Udine sub-region of Friuli, near Trieste in northeastern Italy, all but disappeared after the late 19th century purge of phylloxera. In the 1970s, winemaker Paolo Rapuzzi heard several Prepotto village oldtimers reminiscing about a forgotten variety known as Schioppettino and set about trying to find if any vines still existed. He found several in the garden of the village mayor and a few others scattered throughout the township. When he had about 100 pieces of vine material, he had a local nursery secretly graft them onto rootstock for planting; secretly because the vine was not recognized by DOC authorities and he could have been fined for planting them. A few other growers quietly followed suit and in 1981, the grape was authorized, earning its own DOC in 1987. Schioppettino has since become an important variety in Friuli, creating deeply coloured and perfumed red wines loaded with peppery wild berry fruits, fine tannins and juicy acids. A lively and yet elegant, distinctive grape rescued from oblivion by the passion and curiosity of a few locals.
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