Collio’s Russiz Superiore: New Releases

Russiz Superiore is one of Collio’s most storied, family estates, and its wines are some of the most esteemed of Italy. We visited the estate and met with owner and winemaker Roberto Felluga while preparing our just-published Report #63 The Wines of Friuli: Collio’s Special Whites. In this article, we review the portfolio of Russiz Superiore wines.

Named by one of its first owners, Prince Torre-Tasso, in the 13th century for its high altitude, this feudal estate was owned by a series of noble families over the centuries. Records show that in 1648 the Russiz estate was divided into the hilly, upper area called Russiz Disôre (Russiz Superiore) and the lower area on the flats called Russiz di Sott (Russiz Inferiore).

In 1967, Marco Felluga purchased Russiz Superiore and its 100 hectares of land.  The winery is built in the French style with a chateau (the Relais Russiz Superiore) built on the remains of a 13th century castle. It’s surrounded by 50 ha of estate vineyards planted on steep hillsides of sandstone, limestone and clay soils.

Marco’s son, Roberto Felluga (shown here), is the latest generation of the family to make wine. He is winemaker both at Russiz Superiore and at the family’s sister winery, Marco Felluga.

All the wines of Russiz Superiore are made with grapes from estate vineyards, all hand harvested and partly fermented and aged in oak vats. The flagship of the winery is the Collio Bianco white blend Col Disôre, which is fermented in oak vats of 15-30 hl and further aged in bottle before release. The top red wine is the Collio Rosso Riserve degli Orzon, a Bordeaux blend aged two years in oak barriques.

The US importer is Dalla Terra.

The Russiz Superiore Vineyard

Single Varietal Whites

Russiz Superiore 2016 Friulano Collio (Capriva del Friuli) 91 The 2016 Friulano offers expressive fruit notes of melon, pear and yellow stone fruit with almond and floral accents. I has a good acid backbone, firm minerality, and mouth filing breadth. About 15-20% of the wine is barrel fermented. Russiz Superiore 2016 Pinot Bianco Collio (Capriva del Friuli) 92 An outstanding Pinot Bianco from 50 year old vines. It offers effusive scents of white stone fruit and flowers and shows bright acidity on an impeccably balanced palate, a suave mouth feel, and enticing flavors of pear and melon with a touch of tangerine. Fermented 15% in oak and 85% in stainless steel. Russiz Superiore 2016 Pinot Grigio Collio (Capriva del Friuli) 91 Tasted when newly bottled, the 2016 Pinot Grigio was reticent; it will undoubtedly open with time. It offers perfumed orchard fruit, both on the nose and the palate, complemented by bright acidity. The much more expressive 2013, which we also tasted, gives an idea of the wine’s future development. Handpicked from Capriva del Friuli vineyards, cold macerated, then pressed and 15% fermented in oak barrels and 85% in stainless steel and aged on the lees for 8 months. Russiz Superiore 2012 Sauvignon Riserva Collio (Capriva del Friuli) 93 Medium yellow straw. Ripe fresh stone fruit and melon scents are complemented by accents of thyme and tangerine zest. Very full and rich in the mouth, thickly textured with uplifting acidity. Excellent thick extract and chalky minerals on the finish. From a 50 year old vineyard with 5% of the fruit late harvested at the end of September. Destemmed, cold macerated and then gently pressed and fermented 30% in oak barrels, 70% in stainless and aged on the lees for 3 years.

White Blends

Russiz Superiore 2013 Col Disôre Collio (Capriva del Friuli) 94 This blend of 40% Pinot Bianco, 35% Friulano, 15% Sauvignon, and 10% Ribolla Gialla was separately fermented and aged in 15-30 hl botti, then blended and returned to botti where it aged another 12 months on the lees. An elegant wine showing almond, honeycomb, and light herbal notes on the nose. Firmly structured, it reveals dusty herbs, almonds and citrus flavors, finishing rich and long. A portion of the Sauvignon in 2013 was harvested late. The expression Col Disôre in Friulano refers to “top of the hill” and dates from 1648 when the Russiz vineyard was divided into the top and bottom of the hill.

Red Blends

Russiz Superiore 2005 Rosso Riserve degli Orzoni Collio (Capriva del Friuli) 94 The 2005 Rosso Riserve degli Orzoni is at its absolute peak 12 years after the vintage. Aromatically exuberant and with impeccable palate balance and weight, it is so silky that it glides in the mouth. Rich and layered with well integrated notes of dark red fruit, toasted oak, dusty earth, and leather, it’s both elegant and deceptively powerful. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Russiz Superiore 2010 Rosso Riserve degli Orzoni Collio (Capriva del Friuli) 93 A beautiful, refined wine with a silky attack. Very dense fruited with notes of cassis, plum, and dark berries. Rich toasted oak is completely integrated. Finishes with dry tannins. A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc vilified in stainless steel vats with regular punchdowns and then matured 2 years in small oak casks.

 

 

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