Raboso Piave | Member of the Raboso family of grape varieties native to Italy. It is one of Italy’s oldest varieties. Its naturally with high acid, tannin and deep colour saw it used primarily as a blending partner. Its harsh acidity saw it being largely replaced by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The name | This could come from a similarly named tributary of the Piave river which flows through its production zone. According to popular belief, it could also come from ‘rabbioso’, an Italian term which means angry, due its harsh tannin and high acid. The variety is also called Friularo because it was thought to be native to Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Note that this is not the same variety as Raboso Friularo which is actually a synonym with Raboso Veronese.
Where grown in Italy | Veneto: Piave DOC. | Bagnoli di Sopra DOC. | Bagnoli Friularo/Friularo di Bagnoli DOCG. | IGP Colli Trevigiani. | Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Multiregional: IGP Trevenezie.
Viticulture | Raboso Piave is very vigorous and adaptable to different soils but prefers heavier clay soils. Early bud break and late ripening make it susceptible to spring frost and rain at harvest. Experiments with deleafing, late harvesting and airdrying are all aimed at decreasing this grape’s naturally high malic and tartaric acid. Clonal selection is similarly focused on developing grapes with less acid and tannin.
Wine style | While Raboso Piave can be mean and tough, well-made versions are intensely perfumed with bright strawberry, black cherry, violet, tobacco and black pepper. Raboso Piave’s acid is refreshing when balanced with enough extract and fruit sweetness. Techniques such as long aging in wood are used to try to tame high acidity.
Wine styles | Dry, still reds. Wines made from airdried grapes are smoother, velvety and luscious (like a lighter-style Amarone) whereas those simply using later harvested grapes are fresher and more refined. Raboso Piave does not lend itself to sweet wine because it has so much tannin.
See Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).
Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.65-66.