The irreverent Vigneron with a heart of gold


Fulvio Bressan is a very special story, full of surprises and twists. Fulvio is one of the most controversial people I have ever met. At times I would have gladly killed him, but then he managed to find his way to my heart like a very few others, and maybe I won him over myself, we’ll see. First things first now, and let me introduce Jelena, his wife.

She is the one who welcomed us and took us to the vineyard, put us at ease and began to tell us about terroir, techniques, choices, training systems, the work that is done in the vineyard, and everything else. She is kind and very knowledgeable, but above all she’s really truly beautiful! Although I cannot prove it, I am sure Fulvio was not far away, observing these two strangers, introduced by a dear friend of his, but two strangers nontheless. Who are they? Two bored women chasing the fashion of the moment of visiting wineries? Because pretending to know about wine is cool, maybe even helps to get a few dates! Or, let’s see, two newly certified sommeliers who think they’ve got it all figured out but know less about wine than before? Wait maybe I know, one of them is wearing Converse with a skirt, very radical chic! I swear, if they are two damn radical chic, I’ll shoot them and make them go back to wherever they came from faster than the speed of light.

It is said that curiosity is female, but I have always questioned this popular belief, or maybe it was the prospect of seeing some bloodshed, obviously in a figurative peaceful way! And that’s how he decided to join us in the vineyard. The first impact was very hard! A powerful machine-gun blast of very controversial issues, which have nothing to do with wine, and which ended with “… and now that you’ve had gender equality, don’t fuss so much when you have your period and get down to work”.

I looked at him with a candid and imperturbable smile, my companion of adventures tried to politely fire back but then she also thought otherwise and put on her most beautiful smile, and her smile is much more beautiful than mine. Okay, we’ve just received the baptism by fire, but we did not come here to talk about our period, nor are we here to have a polite chat, taste his wines with proper detachment, decide to buy one, maybe the least expensive, and then go our separate ways. No dear Fulvio, we have come to meet you, to know, to understand, to take a piece of you and maybe leave you something of us. One to zero for you, now take us to the cellar.

The Cellar of Fulvio Bressan is way more than just a cellar. It is like the workshop of an artist. Pablo Picasso comes to mind, and his ability to look at the world from a thousand different perspectives and then manage to bring them all together in each one of his paintings. Pablo Picasso could have achieved worldwide success even just by showing the most obvious perspective, the one understandable to the majority of people, but he left us an important and precious lesson instead: that the ability to look at the world from different points of view enriches us, elevates us and allows us to go further! No limits! Genius!

Back to our story now! Precious paintings on the walls, sculptures and other peculiar artefacts, at times bizarre, are the punctuation of the greater masterpieces, highlighting the constituent elements of this elaborate cellar environment: the barrels. They are unique pieces, made especially for him of chestnut, acacia, cherry and wild pear, with the staves bent by steam only, without the slightest trace of toasting. Here the wood needs to do his job without any interference. The master cooper named Antonio Cione is threatened of death if he unfortunately happens to make any mistake and delivers a less than perfect barrel. But the truth is that Fulvio chose him because he knows very well that he will never fail him!

And among the many treasures there is one that he keeps hidden and that shows only to the chosen ones; it is a painting that Gianni Maran has made for him, and that shows on a single canvas the six wonderful paintings that you can admire in the Cellar, together with the poetry Ithaca by Konstantinos Kavafis that begins like this:

“When you depart for Ithaca…

wish for the road to be long,

full of adventure, full of knowledge, and experiences.

Fear not the Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes

nor the angry Poseidon…”

 Just for a chosen few intimates to see, and he showed it to us!  We plunged into the embrace of the most comfortable and original sofas I have ever seen, and he shared so many stories with us, about his lifetime Friends, a group of outstanding minds between genius and folly, and their crazy adventures over the decades. The stories of his past as a psychologist in the pediatric oncology department …He has seen too many of these Warrior Angels flying away, and he just can’t help but express all his energetic and colorful disagreement with those who complain but do not fight for a better life. And I don’t know how one survives such a hard ordeal, I would have committed suicide after a very short time. One must possess a formidable strength to endure all that, but perhaps this land, these vinyards and this work have saved him from anguish and pain.

He works his vineyards with love and dedication, following without any exception or shortcut a truly natural approach! He uses mine Sulphur and Copper pesticide that take a week to melt in the water. Because I have learned that even Copper pesticide is not all the same. And then herbal teas and natural silica treatments that stimulate the plant’s resistance a bit like a vaccine does. Indigenous yeasts, long fermentations and refinement of several years; all the time it takes to get the maximum expressiveness from your wines. He does not look for typicality but finds it by definition, as a natural outcome of the work done the way it ought to be, respecting nature and the territory, and with the grape varieties that over the centuries have chosen Friuli as their home and that are not and will never be homologated here. Tocai Friulano, Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla, Verduzzo, Schioppettino, Pignolo, Pinot Nero, Cabernet and Merlot.

The result is pure magic, liquid and intense emotions that grow with every sip until tears come to your eyes! The Pignol 2004, there in his home, where he was created and has always lived, reaches a sublime and incomparable state of grace! I challenge you to taste it without shedding a single tear of emotion! This is Fulvio Bressan, a highly educated, intense and eloquent man, who can afford to be controversial, provocative and irreverent and get away with it. And this is his story, obviously a small part of it, but every time I will happen to open one of his bottles, I will always smile between me and myself now, because maybe now I can say I know what goes inside each bottle, apart from this wonderful and unparalleled wine of his. Did we manage to leave him a little piece of us? Before leaving he looked me straight in the eyes and said: “Can I ask you why you got divorced? Because you are so easy to love…”