Picolit, the little known and extremely rare grape variety of European extraction, originates in northern Italy’s ‘Colli Orientali del Friuli’ (eastern hills of the Friuli region). As its name suggests, the stalks of the fruit are very small and due to a genetic disorder known as floral abortion, the variety’s flowering buds don't develop properly, resulting in poor pollination rates and a subsequently exceptionally small crop. The grapes that do develop and ripen fully are packed with flavours, which contribute to the variety’s notoriety as Italy’s most precious and prized dessert wine.
While the variety was first officially documented in 1682, it is understood the Romans cultivated the grape and brought it into Italy around 1500 AD. It wasn't until the 17th and 18th century when 100,000 bottles of Picolit were distributed through the European and Russian courts of nobles and royalty that the wine gained popularity and recognition throughout the world.
Picolit very nearly became extinct after being largely discarded and ripped out of vineyards to make way for better performing varieties, however one 20th century family, the Perusini family persisted with an investment in the plantation of the variety that effectively saved it. Today there’s only 400 acres of commercially grown Picolit in the world.
It is often likened to Sauterne with its delicate, yet complex characteristics, which reflect the balance of acidity and sugar that lends itself well to dessert wine production.
Makers of the Picolit wine use two distinct styles to produce the highly sought after wine. Passito style wines are normally harvested mid-vintage as the fruit ripens and then dried to raisins on straw mats to further develop sugars before pressing. Late harvest styles are picked several weeks later just before the grapes raisin on the vine. After fermentation the wine is often aged in oak barrels.
Typically Picolit offers aromas of honey, pressed flowers and candied orange peel with peach and apricot flavours. While it is more often paired with elegant desserts or served after dinner, it is also considered an aperitif that can be served alone or with foie gras before the main meal.
Turners Crossing vineyard carries just one acre of the grape variety.
Late-Summer Recipe – Persian Love Cake (Gluten Free and Delicious!)
Turners Crossing NV Picolit
- 300g Almond meal
- 185g raw caster sugar
- 220g soft brown sugar
- 120g unsalted butter, melted
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 250g natural yoghurt
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp rosewater
- 25 saffron threads
- 3 tbsp flaked almonds
- 3 tbsp pistachio nut kernels, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 1700C Fan-forced.
Grease the ring of a 24cm spring-form tin, then line with strips of baking paper. Turn the base upside down, so it no longer has a lip. Place a piece of baking paper over it, then clamp the ring around it to secure.
To make the crumb base, combine the almond meal, caster sugar, brown sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and rub together until you have an even, sandy consistency. Divide the mixture in two and tip half into the prepared tin. Using the back of a spoon or a spatula, press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the tin.
To make the cake batter, add the eggs, yoghurt, salt, cardamom, rosewater and saffron to the remaining crumb mixture and whisk until there are no lumps. Pour over the crumb base and sprinkle the flaked almonds and pistachio nuts over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden and fully risen – you will know because the top will probably crack a little. If the top is colouring too quickly, cover with foil, then bake for a further 20 minutes. The centre of the cake should spring back when pressed gently. Cool completely, before removing from the tin and cutting to serve.
Decorate with edible rose petals, sliced fresh figs and a very light dusting of icing sugar. Serve with a dollop of Greek style yoghurt.
The Turners Crossing NV Picolit is a stunning accompaniment to this amazing cake!
What’s happening in the Vineyard? ...
Vintage is upon us! …
Baume levels are rising every day, which means harvest is imminent. The fruit is well and truly through veraison and has ripened and coloured superbly. Fruit bunches are multiple and full and so far the birds and insects have not shown any interest!
Despite the dry, warm days, the vine health is exceptional and fruit establishment appears ideal, largely due to the consistent supply of water applied throughout the growing season.
It won’t be too long before the early morning silence will be broken with the sound of harvesters in action as the urgency to pick and process the ready fruit arrives.
So sit back, pour yourself another glass of Turners Crossing fine wine and prepare for the next stunning collection of great produce form the 2019 Vintage!
In the meantime, don't forget to check out our special offers of Back Vintage wines to add to your collection.