If it were not true, the story of Dottore Emilio Rotolo, one would have to invent it. And yet no one can write it more beautifully than life. A story about passion and about the imponderable twists and turns of fate and about a profession that gives way to a vocation. And a 15th century winery that is awakened from its slumber.
Standing in the courtyard of the prestigious Volpe Pasini winery in the heart of the Colli Orientali, we are caught up in the history of the place and the story of a man who came to Friuli as a medical doctor and fell in love with the land and the wine and a woman and became a winemaker. When you see him like this, pointing spiritedly out over the vineyards and hills of eastern Friuli, you recognize the southern Italian. His passion and temperament are contagious and infectious. Dottore Emilio Rotolo stands there like a force of nature, stringing together one story after another, parroting wine and yields, production and terroir without period.
In 1983, the medical graduate came from Calabria to Trieste to train as a radiologist. The wildly romantic Friuli region caught the dottore cold and converted him. He fell in love with the historic villa of the Volpe Pasini winery near Cividale del Friuli. And he absolutely wanted to have the enchanted, beautiful property. With the purchase of the 400-year-old property in 1995, Emilio Rotolo went from being a physician to a winemaker. Because with the house, the vineyards also passed to the passionate buyer. And with it came a great responsibility and an even greater challenge. Because half-measures are not his thing. Hardly anything excites the Dottore more and drives him more than new challenges. The profession was hung up on the nail and the vocation as a wine entrepreneur unfolded its effect. The sleeves were rolled up and the winery was turned around. Consistently, the vineyard was renewed where necessary and where possible, and invested generously in new cellar technology.
What has been created is something to be proud of: Volpe Pasini is now one of the big names in Friuli and the most innovative wineries. For example, dry ice is used during the harvest to prevent fermentation and oxidation of the grapes. The wine community rumored that the dottore was initially ridiculed as a career changer who was indulging in an expensive hobby. The doubts soon changed into admiration, because gradually great evaluations fluttered into the house. Several times the wines have been awarded the coveted distinction of "tre bicchieri" in the Gambero Rosso, Italy's famous red gastronomic guide. Emilio Rotolo is a perfectionist, and when he does something, he does it with full commitment and dedication. To this day, he has remained true to his philosophy of the highest standards. On 52 hectares, white and red varieties romp about in equal parts.
This results in two production lines: the Volpe Pasini line and the Zuc di Volpe prestigo line. It comes from the estate's most important vineyard, a breathtaking natural amphitheatre that has always produced the best grapes in the region. The first Pinot Bianco in Italy was grown here in 1933. A perfect wine village, in terms of gradient, orientation and location. The Sauvignon Zuc di Volpe cultivated here is consistently ranked among the ten best white wines in Italy, and in 2011 it was even voted the best white wine in the country by the Gambero Rosso. Rotolo is convinced: In the whole wide world there is no better terroir for white wine than its beloved Friuli.
"I hung up the medical profession to pursue my vocation of a wine entrepreneur."
Emilio Rotolo, winemaker
The reds are not to be sneezed at either. We enjoy a Merlot Zuc di Volpe in a stately ambience, as guests in the beautiful Villa Rosa. Emilio and Rosa Rotolo have renovated the historic villa in style and welcome guests here as if they were part of the family. In the magnificent kitchen we sit at a rustic wooden table under a huge crystal chandelier made of Murano glass, hold the ruby red, full-bodied wine in our hands and let ourselves be carried away into the enchanting wine world of Volpe Pasini. Accompanied by the delicious culinary arts of Rosa and the trenchant anecdotes of the Dottore. Because Emilio Rotolo is not only an excellent winemaker and prudent entrepreneur, but also a gifted entertainer. And together with his enchanting wife Rosa, perfect hosts who directly transmit their passion for the land and its fruits, its history and people.