Duline's driving forceAzienda Agicola Vignai da Duline

Via IV Novembre, 136

San Giovanni al Natisone UD - Italy

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This is a visionary winery doing its best to mine its region’s past for treasures to spin into a golden future. Organic production of endangered, old clone, local grape varieties; low impact, carefully considered alternative approaches to grape growing; and non-interventionist wine production are just a few of the core values that drive this producer.

Duline takes it name from a vineyard dotted with old mulberry trees that were previously planted for silkworms production. Now some are now used in place of stakes to hold training wires. Their label symbolizes this clever union of old and new.

dulines high trellis vinesDuline's older high trellis vines

Production focuses on local traditional grapes from Friuli Schioppettino (local name for Ribola Nera), Malvasia Fina and Tokai Friulano (both yellow and green graped clones). And also ancient, open-cluster clone, French grapes that date from before phylloxera: Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

The terroir Duline hoe is a mixture of sandstone strata, laced with sea plant fossils held together with calcium carbonate. The primary vineyards consist of old vines surrounding an old family home at the peak of a hill. Locally this configuration is called a Ronco.  

Duline's terroir mix of fossils and calciumProduction is organic and uses no-till techniques with alfalfa planted between rows to regenerate soil, adding nitrogen to root system with additional advantage of deep oxygenation and minerals being pulled up to surface levels.

In sharp contrast to the global use of French derived ‘low-fruiting wire’ viticulture, Duline instead use a traditional high trellis system. This develops a higher canopy that elongates ripening, which in turn, provides more time to pick exactly at the point of most desirable flavors. The system high branches carry a narrower canopy that doesn’t intrude into space between vines or shade grapes. The higher fruiting zone (well above a metre) keeps the high, under-planted grass from interfering with the vines, humidity down and lets fruit hang out for airing.

traditional syphon for removing oil sealanttraditional syphon for removing oil sealant from top of wineThe more typical, low wire/shorter canopy approach requires leaves to be plucked 2-3 times each year. Duline avoid leaf plucking because they want to keep older leaves intact specifically because at veraison cut leaves force the vine to spend more energy regenerating leaves, shifting attention from fruit ripening.

While tasting at Duline I was shown an ancient glass siphon used to remove olive oil from top of wine stored in barrels. Oil gets sucked in and falls to the bottom so it doesn’t get into mouth interfering with tasting the wine. After running clean, the wine is then poured out.

This technique dates back to Roman times where oil was employed to preserve wine without using SO2, oil creating a natural anaerobic seal. The winemaker’s grandfather had no idea what the siphon was used for, so it clearly looks back toward local 19th C practices. Duline currently are experimenting with oil to seal barrels without sulphur and have developed modern versions of the siphon.  

Duline are about smart viticulture, smart winemaking and smart wines.

Vignai da Duline Friulano 2010 12.5% Made with old clones grapes with open cluster Friulano  grapes from grandfather’s La Duline vineyard planted in 1920 in the Grave sub-region. Leading with lovely floral and spice notes, textures are creamy smooth and fine boned. I especially liked its fine, oily finish. With airing it developed dried herb high toned aromatics. Winemakers likes it paired with dried ham.

Vignai da Duline Gialloditocai 2009 14% This ‘special selection’ magnum of (yellow Tocai) leads with lanolin/wet wool aromas that quickly open up into aloe vera-like notes. Slick and seamless, this exquisitely fine bodied wine tapers off with long, elegant melt-away finish. After extended breathing the wine developed mineral flavors and increasingly floral, spicy aromas 

Vignai da Duline Malvasia Fina 2011 A tank sample of pure Malvasia Fina from 1940 era vines. Fresh banana aromas and flavors, infuse broad, finely oiled textures counter-pointed by low acidity and slightly bitter tannic finish.

Vignai da Duline Morus Alba 2006 13.5% This 60/40% blend of Malvasia Fina and sauvignon blanc presents an unusual, hard to describe mixture of aromatics and flavors. In the mouth it offers a nicely balanced mix of oily textures and acidic structure.

Vignai da Duline Morus Alba 2009This 65/35% blend of Malvasia Fina and old clone sauvignon blanc, plays out with  malvasia-like aromatics with fleshier SB textures. An odd wine that seems to be going in different directions without resolution. That said, it has smoothly polished textures and an elegance in keeping with this producer’s signature style  This 65/35% blend of Malvasia Fina and old clone sauvignon blanc, plays out with  malvasia-like aromatics with fleshier SB textures. An odd wine that seems to be going in different directions without resolution. That said, it has smoothly polished textures and an elegance in keeping with this producer’s signature style.