Among the wines of Rocca Bernarda, Picolit stands out, a true pearl of Friuli.
The name of the wine and the grapes variety from which the term Picolit derives, seems to be attributable to the word “pecòl – picòl” that is “peduncle”, as it recalls the morphology of a bunch characterised by a reddish, large peduncle. The first historical mark of Picolit dates back to 1682 in a will that contains the sentence: “A small barrel of sweet Piccolit wine”, even if up to the eighteenth century it remained an unknown wine.
Rocca Bernarda took responsibility for the survival of Picolit, the pearl of Friulian wines. After having replanted the first shoots of Picolit at the end of the nineteenth century, in 1906 Giacomo Perusini wrote the essay “Il Picolit”, in which he wrote about clones, cultivation techniques and vinification of such a grape variety.
The modern resurrection of these grapes is therefore linked to Rocca Bernarda and the Perusini family in the early 1900s. Giacomo Perusini began by replanting the ancient vineyard of Picolit also trying to find a solution to the main problem of the vine: its low productivity. Giacomo Perusini’s son continued his father’s work and had the merit of reviving the fame of this wine thanks above all to a high-quality production that sensitised the enthusiasts and journalists of that time.
Picolit, which had achieved maximum popularity about a century earlier thanks to Count Asquini di Fagagna, thus found its place in the vineyards. Today the Picolit grapes are harvested by hand in the last days of October. For about a month they are placed on racks in ventilated rooms until the sugar concentration reaches the desired level. In this step the bunches are repeatedly subjected to manual selection in order to eliminate any mouldy or damaged grapes. After pressing, fermentation takes place slowly in small wooden barrels and ends spontaneously with the first winter colds, leaving a rather high sugar residue. A subsequent maturation step on the lees and bottling 18 months after harvest, favour the longevity of Picolit.
Taking advantage of the commercial hub of Venice, the wine was sold in the main European cities and courts and also in Papal State. The operation was profitable thanks to the high added value of the wine (it was 29 times more expensive than the average of the common wine prices of the time), the good shelf life in space and time and the selected clientele: in 1785, Picolit reached a total of 4757 0.61 litre bottles sold. Already in the early 1800s, at the same time as Asquini’s death, Picolit had begun a slow decline even though it continued to be mentioned by various authors and found in the grape fairs of the time. In particular, the Tuscan botanist G. Gallesio inserts Picolit as the only Friulian grapes (Uva del Friuli or Piccolitto) in his essay “Pomona italiana ossia Trattato degli alberi fruttiferi” and refers to a production system similar to the “soleras” method used for the production of fortified wine such as Sherry and Malaga. In this regard, Luigi Veronelli in the first edition of “Vini d’Italia” wrote: “I don’t think there is a nobler wine in Italy than this … it could be the pride of all Italian oenology only if it were possible to stabilise its cultivation and vinification”.In recent years, the good work carried out by the farms in the countryside and in the cellar has led to the “Decree of 30 March 2006” with which the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies recognised the DOCG designation of the “Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit” wine and approved the relative production regulations.