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Wines from Friuli Venezia Giulia

The wines of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region originate in a diverse and evocative landscape with a centuries-old winemaking tradition. This is where great expressions are born that clearly and distinctly reveal the passionate bond between man and the land, the constant enhancement of one's roots and the pursuit of territoriality capable of producing unique expressions, whether white or red. Native white grapes, such as Malvasia Istriana, Vitovska and Ribolla Gialla are contrasted by red varieties such as Schioppettino, Terrano and Refosco, together with great international varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet. This is where the pioneers of biodynamic wines, the use of amphora, the long maceration on the skins and the power of the tannins can be found. All of these unique traditions are conveyed in this ancient land, where Slavic, Italian and Austrian cultures converge.

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The wines of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region originate in a diverse and evocative landscape with a centuries-old winemaking tradition. This is where great expressions are born that clearly and distinctly reveal the passionate bond between man and the land, the constant enhancement of one's roots and the pursuit of territoriality capable of producing unique expressions, whether white or red. Native white grapes, such as Malvasia Istriana, Vitovska and Ribolla Gialla are contrasted by red varieties such as Schioppettino, Terrano and Refosco, together with great international varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet. This is where the pioneers of biodynamic wines, the use of amphora, the long maceration on the skins and the power of the tannins can be found. All of these unique traditions are conveyed in this ancient land, where Slavic, Italian and Austrian cultures converge.

A Long Tradition in Breathtaking Landscapes

Visiting this region is an experience that touches the heart and leaves a strong and unforgettable impression. This is a border region and a place of remembrance, in which the memories of the bloody world wars resonate among the magnificent landscapes. This is where words are lost and silence reigns supreme among the final stretch of the Alps that meet the Adriatic Sea. Colours, sensations and scents blend in a centuries-old history in which it would be difficult to mention only the wines. The region accounts for 4% of all Italian wine production and is considered today one of the best producers of white wines, recognised and exported all over the world. This low production is the result of the choice to produce bottles that focus on quality rather than quantity.

Let's take a step back: this region, with its 7924 square kilometres, is the fourth smallest in Italy, bordered to the north by Austria, to the east by Slovenia, to the west by Veneto and to the south by the Adriatic Sea. It is a middle ground, where Slavic, Italian and Austrian cultures meet. This explains why the native varieties such as Ribolla Gialla and Schioppettino have been joined by great international grapes such as Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet. Glaciers and mountains dominate a landscape that is more than 42% mountainous. It features the gentle Julian and Carnic Alps, of limestone origin, which have been shaped over the years by atmospheric influences, creating the phenomenon of "karstification". The hilly territory, which occupies 20% of the territory, has a conformation very similar to that of the Veneto region, while the flat plain, which covers just under 38%, is made up of a great variety of rocks, clays, limestones, chalks and pebbles, which towards the eastern border are part of the famous "ponca", known in Slovenian as "opoka". This is a multi-layered mixture of sandstone marls of very ancient origin in which marine deposits emerge. The soil gives the wines of Friuli Venezia Giulia a unique and rare mineral character. Bordered to the west by the Tagliamento river and crossed by the Isonzo river, it is a fertile land, characterised by a variable climate, ranging from an alpine one near the Alps to a milder one near the Adriatic, although always characterised by a cold and icy Bora wind blowing constantly from the north. Thanks to this variety of elements, the wines of Friuli Venezia Giulia are undoubtedly unique and of great personality, capable like few others of conveying the most authentic soul of this beautiful region.


The Best Areas of the Region

This region is the cradle of ageing in amphorae, of long macerations, of the famous and increasingly popular orange wines and of the great pioneers of artisanal wine production. It has some of the most important and famous areas in Italy.

The Karst area is certainly one of the most spectacular and scenic locations in the region. In the province of Gorizia, along the gulf of Trieste and all the way to Istria, the landscape is of rare beauty, with its rocky terrain, underground rivers and impressive caves. The white stone illuminates the landscape and the bare red earth, rich in iron, creates a very suggestive interplay of colours; as Giovanni Bietti defines them, these are fragments of lunar landscapes. In fact, the word Karst has Celtic origins and signifies 'land of rock'. The high concentration of stones makes wine-growing particularly difficult, to the extent that in ancient times pickaxes were used to plant vines in the rock. The typical local red wine is Terrano, a variant of Refosco del Collio, which has been defined as the "Blood of Karst", featuring intense tannins and great personality. Among the white wines, which are often macerated, the delicate and elegant Malvasia Istriana is one of the leading examples, along with the smooth, refined and fresh Vitovska. 

The Collio area is considered to be the most suitable for the production of highly expressive Friuli Venezia Giulia wines which have contributed to the success of the region in the wine industry. It is a hilly area that continues across the Italian border into Slovenia and is characterised by ancient marly rocks and stratified claystones that form the famous "ponca", which become red or grey depending on the amount of minerals. Production is concentrated around the districts of Oslavia and San Floriano del Collio, where Ribolla Gialla dominates the stage. This grape variety is extremely fresh and juicy, not very aromatic and has been neglected for a long time in the past. However, 20 years ago Josko Gravner discovered that this variety lent itself particularly well to long periods of contact with the skins, resulting in a very symbolic Friuli white wine, which is pleasantly tannic and full-bodied, and can offer great experiences if aged for a long time. The Friulano grape variety, once called Tocai and subject of a long dispute with Hungary over the origin of its name which recalled the famous Tokaj passito, is another symbol of the area. It is also widespread outside of the Collio and has a fresh, pleasant and delicate character with scents of almonds and mountain fruit. From these grapes and other international varieties comes the famous Collio Bianco DOC. Red wines from international grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are also produced.

To the north of the Collio, and to the east of Udine, is the Colli Orientali area which is the most symbolic and representative of the entire region, thanks to its great variety of soils and excellent climatic conditions. This is the birthplace of Friuli's most famous passito wine, Ramandolo DOCG, which is made from Verduzzo grapes. Together with Picolit, this is one of the rarest and most sought-after sweet grape varieties in the world. There are also white wines based on Chardonnay and Sauvignon, as well as Bordeaux-style reds based on Cabernet or Merlot. This area is characterised by a great wealth of local red wines including the spiced and sharp Schioppettino, the tannic and intense Tazzelenghe and the full-bodied and slightly bitter Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso. All these wines, whether red or white, are part of the famous Colli Orientali DOC specification. Last but not least, the Grave area is also worth mentioning as it is the largest, stretching from the provinces of Pordenone and Udine to the border with Veneto, and is characterised by a pebbly soil reminiscent of the Bordeaux region.

Discover the best wines of the Friuli region at a special price on Callmewine. Browse the varieties from every part of the territory and enjoy their aromatic notes in unique food pairings.