Showing posts with label Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2022

White Wine From Northern Italy - It's Just Right

The Venezia Giulia IGT region is in the far northeastern corner of Italy, sharing borders with Austria and Slovenia. Northern Italy is known for its white wines, and the Venezia Giulia IGT is no exception. The soil in the region is a mix of clay and stones and is pretty much the perfect dirt in which to grow white wine grapes.

The Bastianich Winery was founded in 1997 by the Bastianich family. They are the folks who have brought so many fine Italian restaurants to so many corners of the world, and who are the driving force behind Eataly in Los Angeles, which is where I had this wine with lunch, I brought a bottle home as well.

The 2018 Vespa Bianco is a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, grown in the hills of Premariacco and Cividale. The wine is fermented half in stainless steel tanks and half in oak casks. Aging in the bottle lasts a year before release. A good portion of the lees - the spent yeast cells - are left in the wine, which enhances and lends weight to the mouthfeel. Alcohol hits 14% abv and Vespa Bianco sells for around $27.

This beautiful wine carries a golden hue in the glass and has a nose which features salinity as well as fruit. The aromas range from pears to guava to beeswax to lanolin. On the palate, there is bountiful salinity and minerality to meet the tropical fruit flavors. Acidity is fresh and zingy, too, so food pairing is simple. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Friuli's Eastern Hills Make A Beautiful White Wine


The La Roncaia website waxes extremely poetic about Italy's Friuli Colli Orientali DOC zone.  The hills and green terraces, the verdant woods, the glittering sea on the far horizon - I'm sold.  An Italian vacation it is.

The Fantinel family has been making wine in this beautiful region - the eastern hills - for three generations, and they are not showing any signs of slowing down.  As in the rest of the general area of northeastern Italy, the soil's minerality is the key to making a great white wine.

La Roncaia's 2018 Eclisse is a blend of Sauvignon and Picolit grapes grown in the rolling hills between Tarcento and Attimis.  Picolit is usually vinified as a sweet dessert wine, and it enjoyed much popularity in the 18th century among royalties across Europe.  This wine is a Bianco IGT Venezia Giulia bottling.  The grape varieties were vinified separately in a mixture of steel tanks and French oak barrels.  Alcohol hits a reasonable 13.5% abv and it retails for around $20.

The gold-tinted wine has some frizzante - fine, tiny bubbles clinging to the glass.  The nose offers lemon, lime, apricot and a very earthy salinity.  The palate is as mineral-driven as they come - lots of wet stone and citrus at play here, along with a nice bit of acidity.  The savory aspect of this wine simply knocks me out.  Pair with shellfish, or just with crackers and a sharp cheddar.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Collio Wines Bring The Minerals

The Italian wine region known as Collio is located in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region of Italy's northeast corner, between the Giulian Alps and the Adriatic Sea.  It offers its winemakers a mild microclimate and soil - called ponca - which is a remnant of a time when the ocean covered the land, consisting of marl and sandstone, with marine fossils abundant.  The land gives Collio wines their striking minerality.

Toros Pinot Bianco Collio 2019

Franco Toros is known for his wines which accentuate the minerality of Friuli, and especially Collio.  The 100% Pinot Bianco grapes were grown in the hillside vineyards and fermented in steel tanks, where the wine also aged.  Alcohol rings in at 14% abv and the wine sells for around $19.

The Toros Pinot Bianco Collia 2019 has a nice golden color in the glass. I get a muted nose with apricot aromas foremost and citrus minerals chasing. The palate shows stone fruit and minerals galore. Acidity is nice and fresh, even zippy.  The finish is medium long and carries the minerals back for a revisit. 

Borgo Conventi Pinot Grigio Collio 2019

The winery Borgo Conventi says its name comes from the legend concerning the commune of Farra d'Isonzo.  So the story goes, Count Strassoldo - il Rizzardo to the locals - donated a piece of land to Dominican friars who then built the first monastery in the area.

The Conventi Pinot Grigio Collio 2019 was fermented and aged in steel tanks, enhancing the minerality and freshness.  The alcohol number is 13.5% abv and the wine sells for around $20.

The yellow-tinted wine smells floral and tropical, with white flowers, apricot and mango coming through on the nose.  There is also a bit of citrus minerality, like a sidewalk after a rain.  The palate shows the stone fruit and tropical aspect, with a hefty slice of acidity to go along with it.  So fresh and racy is it that one can feel free to pair this Pinot Grigio with seafood rather than restrict it to salads. 

Ronco Blanchis Collio Friulano 2019

Ronco Blanchis is in the process of converting to organic farming, which they say will be complete sometime in 2021.  The operation is headed up by Giancarlo Palla and his sons Lorenzo and Alberto.  Winemaker Gianni Menotti was named Italian winemaker of the year in 2006.  

The winery refers to vintners as "poets of the land," a land which once belonged to the Greeks, then the Romans, Austria and Spain, a land influenced by its proximity to mountains and sea.

This wine was made of Tocai Friulano grapes, vinified and aged in steel.  Alcohol tips 14% abv and it retails for around $15.

This clear yellow wine pours up very slightly frizzante, with a small collection of tiny bubbles clinging to the glass.  On the nose there is a sweet apricot aroma mixed with a delicate blend of herbs and minerals.  Those minerals drive the palate, which is exquisitely citrus.  The acidity comes on strong, then softens through the sip into a gentle tingle.  It is an elegant white wine, offering a perfect balance of herbal notes, earthiness and freshness.

Vina Borut Blazič Malvasia Collio 2019

Blazič is actually located in Slovenia, right on the border with Italy.  Some of the Blazič vineyards are in Slovenia, some are in Italy's Collio region.

Their 100% Malvasia wine was aged for seven months in concrete and another couple of months in the bottle.  Alcohol is 14% abv

This wine has a yellow-green tint and a nose that is a bit closed, or maybe subtle is a better word.  Very light citrus notes give way to a mix of cantaloupe and honeydew.  The palate is anything but subtle.  Big toasted almond flavor elbows past Meyer lemon and tangerine to lead the way.  The acidity is fantastic - just enough but not too much.  The finish wraps up the sip with a beautiful salinity.  The more of Collio I taste, the more I love that region.

Conti Formentini Raiante Ribolla Gialla Collio 2019

The winery's U.S. importer indicates that the Formentini family has owned the castle on the tallest hill in Friuli since the 16th century.  The wine that was made there was reported, even way back then, as being "exquisite."  The name Raiante comes from the local word for "a ray of sunshine."

A little more than a third of the Ribolla Gialla grapes that make up the wine are set aside for a month to dry, then added to the fermenting wine.  The process is said to give more body to Raiante.  Alcohol is restrained at 13% abv and it can probably be found for less than $20.

This wine colors up a medium-pale yellow with green highlights.  The nose is earthy and mineral-driven, with mango, guava, apricot and citrus aromas.  The palate offers salinity and stone fruit, along with a decent acidity that refreshes.  The citrus flavor that plays through the strongest is lime.  This is a really great wine for crab cakes or shrimp dishes. 

Polje Fantazija Bianco Collio DOC  2019

The Polje winery was named after the geological depressions, or sinkholes, formed in limestone which has been eroded over time.  It is this limestone element of the soil which lends the incredible minerality to the wine.

Fantazija was made from Ribolla Gialla, Chardonnay and Sauvignon grapes, fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol hits 13.5% abv and the retail price is around $20.

The nose on this wine from Italy's Collio region is explosive enough to make an impression before the glass has been raised.  Floral, then herbal, then honeydew melon, then limes, then - of all things - smoke!  It's a showstopper.  The palate offers a mineral-driven flintiness, with citrus, melon and a fine acidity.  Pair it with oysters, shrimp, or a calamari and scungilli salad. 

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Trio Of Italian Sauvignon Blancs

A recent online wine tasting experience introduced participants to Italian Sauvignon Blanc.  Probably more noted from France, California or New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine grape which can produce a wide variation of styles, even within northern Italy's wine regions.

Tiare Collio DOC Sauvignon 2019

For his Tiare winery, Roberto Snidarcig creates white wines under the Collio labeling and reds from the Isonzo DOC.  Collio's marl is better fitted for whites than the gravelly soil of Isonzo.  

This 2019 Tiare is 100% Sauvignon from the Dolegna del Collio area.  Fermentation took place in stainless steel vats and a fifth of the wine saw malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol sits at 13.5% abv and the retail price comes in around $23.

This Sauvignon is tinted a very light gold, almost clear.  The nose gives aromas more common to New World Sauvignon Blancs - grass, herbs, salinity.  The grassiness is not, however, on par with, say, a New Zealand SB.  It's a little more restrained than that.  On the palate, citrus minerality is the rule, with an extremely fresh acidity.  The lemon-lime flavor comes back on the lengthy finish.  Fish is a great pairing for this wine, something along the lines of a tuna salad or nicoise would be ideal.

Bosco del Merlo Sauvignon Blanc Turranio

Bosco del Merlo's winery name was inspired by the oak forests - boscos - that once covered the area and were referenced on topographical maps.  Turriano refers to Ruffino Turranio of Concordia Sagittaria.  He was a monk and a historian just a few centuries after the birth of Christ.  The Bosco del Merlo estate winery was founded in 1977 by brothers Carlo, Lucia and Roberto Paladin.

The estate vineyards are right on the border between Veneto and Friuli, and this wine is Friuli DOC.  The grapes for Turranio were harvested separately - different Sauvignon Blanc clones of different ages.  The grapes of the first harvest were tasked with freshness and minerality.  The grapes of the second harvest were for structure and body.  The fruit was vinified separately, then aged five months in steel, in contact with the spent yeast cells.  Alcohol clocks in at 13% abv and the wine sells for around $20.

This pale yellow wine has a fragrant nose with some grassy, herbal notes, although not as grassy as the Tiare.  There is a nice floral element and some tropical fruit, too.  The palate shows a great Sauvignon Blanc flavor profile - citrus, minerals, herbs - and an acidity which is pleasant enough without getting too crazy.  I sometimes find Sauvignon to be a little much on the palate for my taste, but that is not the case with the Turriano.  It is a very nice sip and wonderful match for rice or pasta dishes, especially those with an herbal flair to them.

Cantina Kurtatsch Alto Adige Sauvignon Kofl

Kurtatsch Kellerei-Cantina is a wine cooperative which has been around since 1900.  Some 190 families contribute the leg and back work, while winemaker Othmar Doná transforms their fruit into wine.

This wine comes from the Alpine region of Alto Adige, where the German language is just as common to hear as Italian.  The winery says the vineyard lies in the shadow of the great mountains to the west, so the sun sets early there and makes for a white wine heaven.  The sandy, gravelly soil sports a lot of dolomite and quartz, which benefits the minerality.  Kofl was vinified in steel tanks, then aged for a year, on the lees, in big oaken barrels.  

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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Two Wines From Italy's Collio DOC

Collio is in a chip of land in Italy's far northeastern corner, in the region Friuli Venezia Giulia, an area dominated by white wines.  The soil is largely the result of an ancient ocean, teeming with marine sediment, sandstone and limestone, always of prime importance for white wines.  The grape varieties of Collio include Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla, Friulano and the sweet Picolit grape.  That most of the wines are grown in hillside vineyards, it is natural that the region takes its name from the Italian word for hills.

Tenuta Stella was founded by Sergio Stevanato, who still runs the operation with his two sons.  The Tenuta Stella winemaker is Erika Barbieri.

The Tenuta Stella Collio Friulano 2019 was made entirely in stainless steel tanks, from Tocai Friulano grapes.  The wine was aged in steel on the lees, the spent yeast cells, which impart weight and complexity.  Alcohol sits at 14%abv and the wine is found at an average price of $15.

This lovely golden wine smells of candied apricots, with lemon curd and flowers in the background.  There is an earthy aroma that envelops all the other fragrances.  Beautiful.  The apricots come forward first on the palate, with lemon zest and a racy acidity that screams for seafood, maybe oysters on the half shell.  There is a wonderful salinity and a nutty flavor that comes in on the finish. 

The Edi Keber Collio 2018 also hails from the Collio DOC, close to the Slovenian border.  Edi's son, Kristian, is now following in his father's wine-stained footsteps.  This is the only wine he produces.

Keber says the wine is a blend of Friulano grapes, for body and structure, Malvasia Istriana for aromatics and Ribolla Gialla for acidity.  Keber's grapes grow in that poor Collio soil - ponco - which stresses the vines and brings out their best.  The wine is vinified and aged in cement.  Keber feels opting for cement instead of steel gives the wine more soul.  Alcohol tips 13% abv and it sells for $26 on average.

This yellow-gold wine has a complex nose which starts with a floral note and continues with lemon, apricot and a touch of lanolin.  On the palate, salinity is the calling card and Meyer lemon joins in with an almond aspect.  The mouthfeel is quite creamy and acidity is somewhat reserved.  This will pair nicely with any sort of salad or white meat, including fish. 

Friday, September 27, 2019

An Italian Pinot Grigio To Love

Hot weather doesn't necessarily mean rosé wine - although it's always a great choice.  Any cool, refreshing white wine could serve as a summer sipper, especially Pinot Grigio.  It's one of the more popular grapes for consumers in the U.S., and Italian winemakers have adopted the grape of French origin as their own.  Everyone seems to like the lime, apple, pear and melon flavors found in typical Pinot Grigios, and the pairing possibilities fall right into the summertime wheelhouse - light pasta, salads, ceviche and sushi.

The 2017 Gradis’ciutta Pinot Grigio hails from the Collio hills of northeastern Italy, in the Friuli-Venezia region's Collio hills.  The winery says visitors to their estate are greeted with a home cooked meal by owner and winemaker Robert Princic's mother, Ivanka.  And there's wine, too?  That sounds like living the dream.

This grapes for this wine were grown in the vineyards of Budignacco, Pozar and Dragica, at elevations from 325 to 475 feet above sea level.  Vinification in stainless steel tanks is followed by a period of aging on the lees, the spent yeast cells, which imparts weight and depth to the wine.  Alcohol hits 13.5% abv and the wine retails for about $22.  The wine was provided to me by its importer, Vineyard Brands.

This wine smells of apricot and lanolin, an earthy nose that does not scream "Pinot Grigio" to me.  It's a subtle and elegant nose, and definitely on the savory side.  Vegetal notes come through on the palate, along with stone fruit.  I'm not a big PG fan, but this one I would have anytime.

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.