Say goodbye to Tocai


In April 2008 the name of an important Italian wine denomination will cease to exist: Tocai (pronounced: To-kah-ee) was part of a long tradition and wine history of two different regions: Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto, both in the north-east of the country. Tocai Friulano is a white grape, very popoìular, with origins that are unclear: some speculation seem to point that it was imported from Hungary, despite its lack of resemblance to any Hungarian variety. Anyway, Tocai was documented in Friuli as early as 1771. Some ampelographic research has identified it to be the same as the Sauvignonasse, a vine, as the name suggests, mistakenly thought to be related to Sauvignon Blanc. Tocai is Friuli's most planted white vine, with a fifth of the vineyard area, and is also widely disseminated in the Veneto and eastern Lombardy regions.
Well, forget the name Tocai Friulano. Hungarian wine authorities were able to impose to those at European Union their rights about Tokaji, and the ban to use this or similar names in other regions.

So the new name will be “Tai” (pronounce: T-ah-ee).

But Tocai Friulano [sorry: Tai] it's not the only grape that uses this name. We have also a red one, based on a completely different grape, which origin was identified in the grape that takes the name of Grenache in South-east of France, Cannonau in Sardinia (Italy), Alicante and Garnacha in Spain. Tocai Rosso (that was the name) is mainly produced in Colli Berici, a small and hilly area, 60 km. west of Venice. Here you can find nice and light wines, with very interesting quality-price ratios. But pay attention, do not search for Tocai, their labels are now converted to Tai Rosso.

Aristide, where he writes about wine with an outsider and consumer-devoted approach.

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  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,550

    The whole Tokaji, Tocai, Tokay d'Alsace thing confuses me no end, so creating clarity is welcomed, but that seems a drastic step for the Italian wine authorities to take. Very interesting Giampiero, thank you.

    Mar 21, 2008 at 6:01 AM

  • Wine Gift Baskets

    Wine Gift Baskets

    As wines related subjects continue to increase in popularity, there will be a greater number of locations to learn more about this interesting theme.

    Mar 22, 2008 at 8:05 AM

  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 6,458

    One of the varieties I've yet to have the pleasure to try. I'll have to remember to look for Tai as the same when I do get around to it.

    Mar 24, 2008 at 1:33 AM

  • Rodolphe

    Once Hungary joined the EU, they filled this complaint which was going to be hard to stop. In the long run, I think this ruling will help consumers since Tokay d'Alsace and Italy's various Tocai's have nothing to do with their Hungarian counterparts. I think the French have had a better response to the crisis, phasing out the use of “Tokay” and then “Tokay Pinot Gris” and investing in marketing that heralds Pinot Gris' character whereas this is the first I've heard of Tai.

    Incidentally, I will be in the Colli Berici next week for dinner before Vinitaly - I am a big fan of the old Tocai Rosso and wish it was more popular in the US!

    Mar 24, 2008 at 5:28 AM

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