Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Eye-Opening White Wines From Italy's Collio Region

A vertical tasting of Zuani wines from Italy’s Collio region opened my eyes and palate to some great white wines.

Collio Goriziano is in the northeast Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, right across the border from Slovenia. Slovenia faces north, Collio south. Over 85% of the Collio production is white wine grape varieties. Reds are usually a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon while the whites utilize grapes like Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc. Oak not a big issue in Collio, the accent is on fruit.

Pouring the small lunch group through the Zuani wines were the company’s founder and president, Patrizia Felluga, and Antonio Zanon, who handles export marketing. The Fellugas are a fifth-generation winemaking family, turning grapes into Collio wine for over a century. The two styles of wine made by Zuani are both white blends of Friulano, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay, 25% each. The styles are differentiated by their vinification and aging. Zuani Vigne is produced entirely in steel, while the Riserva line, Zuani Zuani, is aged for 20 months, but only nine in French oak barrels. The winery produces just under 6,000 cases per year. The Zuani Vigne sells for $24, while the Riserva goes for $37. All are 12.5% abv and are available in the US and Canada.

Here are the wines poured at the luncheon:

Zuani Collio Bianco 2014 - A wet, cooler vintage than usual. The wine has a fruity nose of pear and peach with a chalky note. The palate shows citrus with lovely savory notes.

Zuani Collio Bianco 2013 - This was a more balanced vintage, and the nose has the fruit more subdued, while the palate has a little less acidity than ‘14, but plenty of lime and flint.

Zuani Collio Bianco 2012 - A dry vintage, and it shows the best. There is great age showing in this wine. It’s very savory with a note that is almost like petrol. A more mineral driven palate than the other two, with great citrus and more flintiness.

Zuani Collio Bianco Riserva 2013 - The oak shows softly on the nose, with a bit of spice and muted peach aromas. The palate loads up on citrus and that lovely touch of oak.

Zuani Collio Bianco Riserva 2012 - This is a really great nose, again showing age, with petrol and savory olive notes. On the palate, beautiful oak, very well aged, and savory.

Overall the 2012s were my favorites, all savory and mineral-driven. The ‘13s were more muted, while the 2014 was big and fruity.

Felluga likes the wines served with frico, which is Montasio cheese fried in olive oil to a crisp. Of course, she can also go for some Prosciutto di San Daniele, fish and pasta with this wine.