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Amidst the Eastern-facing hills of Italy’s Friuli Venezia-Giulia lies Cialla, a small, luscious valley coloured with forests of chestnut, oak and wild cherry trees, in the heart of the renowned Colli Orientali wine region. In Friulian dialect ‘Ronchi’ refers to hills cultivated by vines and thus, just as this family estate’s wines take their personality from the land, so do they take their name. The simplicity of the Ronchi di Cialla winery’s name perfectly reflects the ethos of this 28-hectare estate, founded in 1970 and since passed from Paolo and Dina Rapuzzi to their sons Pierpaolo and Ivan: to cherish the ancient native grapes of Friuli, working solely with indigenous varieties, including Ribolla, Redosco, Verduzzo and Picolit and, most uniquely, the Schioppettino grape, which they restored and revitalised from near extinction. Baroque, beautifully balanced, bursting with blackberries and intriguingly balsamic in personality, you’ll be thrilled they saved it.

Cialla is wholly suited to the nurture of these unique varieties. Secluded and perfectly pristine, its viticultural landscape is both picturesque and peaceful, shaped by steep terraces carved out of the ‘ronchi’ – terraces that provide a home to ancient varieties in the present, and that have carved their own place in history, dating back as far as the Republic of Venice.

Protection of this land is paramount to the Ronchi di Cialla winery – their commitment to biological diversity and minimalist agriculture innovation earned them the ‘Biodiversity Friendly’ certification in 2015. Such respect for the earth and the fruit it bears is paralleled within the winery walls. Natural vinification, followed by a maturation in oak barrels developed in 1977, made Ronchi di Cialla the very first to use this old natural wine stabilisation process. A period of long undisturbed meditation in bottle concludes this sensitive winemaking process, the wines’ release marking only the beginning of a beautifully long life, during which their personality develops – for over 40 years - as lusciously as the land from whence they came. Their Ribolla Gialla provides a wine of incomparable value – zingy, saline and dripping with lemons, green apples and peppery pears that’ll transport you straight to this pastoral paradise, while the Cialla Bianco offers a seductively savoury, full-body full of florals, pear, plum fruits and vanilla from 11 months in oak barriques. These are some of the finest age-worthy wines in Italy.

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