A couple of weeks ago, I met some friends at Cul de Sac in Piazza Pasquino after a long and exhausting Vatican tour. It had been a hard week for all of us so a great bottle of wine was definitely in order. We chose a 2005 Vie di Romans Dolée Tocai Friuliano, a white wine from Friuli-Venezia Guilia, a region in northeastern Italy that shares borders with Austria and Slovenia and is known for its stellar varietal whites including Ribolla Gialla, Chardonnay, and Pinot Bianco.
The wine’s name—2005 Vie di Romans Dolée Tocai Friuliano—is quite a mouthful and doesn’t even say it all. First off, the DOC, listed on the back of the bottle, is Isonzo del Friuli, an appellation that includes about 25 different wines, many of which are made from native grape varieties, Tocai Friulano among them. 2005 is obviously the vintage, Vie di Romans is the producer, and Dolée is the fantasy name that this house assigns to its wine made from 100% Tocai grapes in adherence to the rules and regulations laid out by the Isonzo DOC.
Tocai Friulano is a white grape that has similarities to Savignon Blanc (in fact, sometimes it is called Savignon Vert), though it makes a fuller bodied and more acidic product. Tocai is known for its mineral, floral, and fruity notes and this particular bottle was full of flint, apple, and honey blossom. It paired nicely with a plate of prosciutto di San Daniele, a delicate cured ham also from Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
Tocai is an important word in the world of wine. It is the name of both a white grape and a prestigious sweet wine from Hungary (spelled Tokaji) analogous to France’s Sauternes. A recent legal battle concluded that only the Hungarian incarnation could sport the name and that all other uses or similar spellings were tantamount to unfair competition and must be banned. In Friuli, wine made from the 2007 grape harvest will take on the new name “Friulano”, so look for that on Dolée labels when the 2008 vintage is released.
Vie di Romans’ Dolée of various vintages is readily available in the enoteche and restaurants of Rome.