Pignolo is a dark-skinned grape native to Friuli, in the northeast of Italy. It has a long-standing reputation for producing deep-colored and high-quality wines that were popular with the monks of the region's ancient Abbazia (Abbey) di Rosazzo. As the variety can be temperamental, it was shunned for higher-yielding vines such as Schioppettino for many years, although a number of producers in Friuli are now returning to the grape.
Pignolo is often confused with Pignola, a dark-skinned variety found today in Lombardy. There is still no general consensus as to whether the two grapes are the same or distinct. Synonyms of Pignolo include Pignola Valtellinese and Pignuola, while Pignola is sometimes known as Pignolo, which only adds to the confusion.
The word pignolo means "fussy" in Italian, which reflects the nature of the variety: it produces uneven and generally low yields. While production of Pignolo wines is still small, they are renowned for being deeply pigmented, brooding, rich and full. Blackberry and plum flavors are common to Pignolo wines, as are plump tannins and balanced acidity. Pignolo has an affinity for oak, and wines are often aged for 24 months or more in barrel before being released. Thanks to the grape's ample tannins, the wines are often capable of aging for 12 years or more.
The variety is grown almost exclusively in Friuli and wines produced with Pignolo mostly come under the IGT classification and are predominantly single-variety wines.
Synonyms include: Duracino, Ochialina, Pignol, Pignola Valtellinese, Pignuola, Robola, Schiettarola.
Food matches include:
Europe: Agnello alla Friulana con pancetta e patate (Friulian leg of lamb with pancetta and potatoes)