Following a recent trip to Friuli, Patrizia Baldini, Senior Italian Brand Manager, discovered the wide variety of wine styles that this region has to offer. The unique soil and climate of this area are key factors in the making of mineral and complex wines. Patrizia has selected her top picks from producers, like Livio Felluga, Specogna and Vie di Romans.
Livio Felluga was a major player in the Italian Wine Renaissance in the 1960s and 1970s. When he bottled his first wine in 1956, there was no appellation system for Friuli, so he included a map of Friuli on his labels to show customers the origin of his wines. Today the map is still there, while the quality is better than ever. The Pinot Grigio 2017 is aromatic with typical apple and pear aromas on the nose. The aromas carry on through to the palate, which is fresh with a hint of minerality, and makes the wine extremely enjoyable.
Livio Felluga lived until he was 102, and his children created Illivio to celebrate his 85th birthday. They blended together grape varieties that best represented Livio’s personality: the strength of Chardonnay, the elegance of Pinot Bianco and the sweetness of Picolit. The result is a fragrant and elegant wine with notes of white peach and candied citrus fruit which are perfectly integrated with oak aromas.
The 24 hectares of this estate’s vineyards are set in a beautiful amphitheatre. The best position for each variety is selected according to altitude and exposure. The Pinot Grigio Ramato 2017 undergoes two days of maceration on the skins, giving the wine its characteristic coppery colour (“Ramato”) and great texture on the palate, with rich flavours of pears, apples and elderflower.
Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso is a very different grape from the more common Refosco (mostly grown in Veneto), and is related to Marzemino. It has good acidity and tannin levels which can give age-worthy wines. The Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso 2016 undergoes 20 days of fermentation on the skins, and 14 months ageing in Tonneaux before release. This approach highlights the personality of this variety: intense red berry and spice aromas, characteristic acidity and soft tannins.
Gianfranco Gallo, owner and winemaker at Vie di Romans, is a real “wine scientist”. His vineyards are superbly tended to get the best fruit from his vines in the mineral rich plain of Isonzo. The `Dessimis` Pinot Grigio 2015 is a “Ramato” and undergoes 20 hours of skin contact which gives the wine a beautiful copper colour and a rich texture. Aromas are reminiscent of ripe apple, pears and stone fruit. It is a complex and rich wine, fermented in used oak and aged for nine months on the lees, which lends the wine hints of spices and mineral notes on the palate and a very long finish.
The Flors di Uis 2015 is testament to Friuli’s history, a blend of all the aromatic varietals grown in Friuli. The local Malvasia Istriana is the core of this wine (55%), with 10% of the other local variety, Friuliano. The remaining 35% is Rheinriesling which was brought to the region by the Austro-Hungarian empire during the 19th century. The Malvasia Istriana dominates the nose with floral aromas of wisteria and sweet jasmine. The palate is full bodied with minerality. The Rheinriesling brings a vibrant acidity to the blend while the aromatic notes stay long after the finish.