Friuli Venezia Giulia Ė Land of Great White Wines
22nd May 2007

Friuli Venezia Giulia lies in north east Italy, bounded on the west and south by Veneot, on the east by Slovenia and on the north by Austria.  It has 8 DOC (Denominazione díOrigine Controllata) regions and one DOCG (Denominazione díOrigine Controllata e Garantita).  Three are in the hills (Colli Orientali del Friuli, Collio and Carso), while the rest stretch down to the sea.

In total, the vineyards of Friuli cover 17,561 hectares, employing around 24,000 people in the 1700 wineries that produced a total of 1,185,814 hectolitres in 2005, of which 694,721 hectolitres (i.e. 60%) come from the DOC regions.  Friuli accounts for 3% of Italyís total wine production, and 5% of Italyís DOC wine production.  59% of the vineyards are planted with white grapes (this has been declining over the last twenty years); 41% with red varieties: 20% are indigenous varieties; 80% international varieties.  65% of the vineyards are on the plains; 35% on hillsides.  The flatlands vineyards of Friuli are unusually high quality vineyards for plantings on flat plains.

Friuliís vineyards are a treasure trove of unique varieties, but it is also important to note that many of the more international varieties, such as cabernet franc and pinot bianco, have been planted in Friuli since the 1700s.  All the wineries are relatively small scale: there are no big names in Friuli.

The first session was a tasting of Tocai Friulano wines, one from each of seven DOCs.

2006 Tocai Friulano, DOC Friuli Latisana, Vialetto Gabriele
This has a rich, concentrated nose with some pear and floral character.  Rich, full palate.  This is a nice characterful wine.  Very precise finish with a blast of acidity evident after.  Possibly a touch on the simple side.  Very Good.  86/100

2006 Tocai Friulano, DOC Friuli Grave, Conte Brandolini
This has a much fruitier nose than the Gabriele, with stone fruits and some white flowers.  Thereís more balance on the palate and it has a nice character with much more depth and interest.  Very concentrated on the finish.  Exceptional length.  Thereís a nice acidity running throughout which keeps it nice and fresh.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2006 Tocai Friulano, DOC Friuli Annia, Cav. Emiro Bortolusso
This has a round, open, but very even nose.  Very round on the palate: quite full, but lacking in much tocai friulano character.  Overall, itís a bit dull, and not a very good example of the grape.  Good.  82/100

2005 Tocai Friulano, DOC Friuli Aquileia, Tenuta Beltrame
This has a lovely nose: very floral with some gentle appley notes, with some pea and pear notes behind.  Very good palate: very precise with a lovely balance between the different fruit characters and with the fine acidity.  This is an impressive wine, with huge length and itís very, very focussed.  Itís not as easy drinking as the Brandolini though.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2006 Tocai Friulano, DOC Friuli Isonzo, Feresin Davide
An interesting nose with some fruit, but mainly sort of petit pois ŗ la franÁaise notes Ė peas, lettuce, cream.  Very rich and creamy on the palate with some intense peach and pear fruit flavours.  This is a nice wine, but it lacks something a little.  Just a bit unbalanced.  Very Good.  86/100

2006 Tocai Friulano, DOC Collio, Tenuta Villanova
A good stone fruit nose with some grappa concentration.  Very nice palate.  Very balanced with plenty of interest, though the Brandolini is still the best.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2006 Tocai Friulano, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, Roberto Scubla
A very precise, focussed nose with honeysuckle and stone fruit and a touch of eau de vie de poire.  Really, really nice palate with super balance.  In the mouth, the flavours build and build, but it retains the lovely balance.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100


The next session covered a variety of pinot grigio wines with a couple of the rarer ramandolo wines.  Ramandolo, which is made from verduzzo grapes that are usually air dried for between a couple of weeks and several months, is one of the two sweet wines made in Friuli.  The second is picolit, which is also from the Colli Orientali del Friuli and makes a lighter wine than ramandolo, which can even display a touch of tannin.


2006 Pinot Grigio, DOC Friuli Grave, San Simone
Good nose: initially fairly slight, but it quickly opens up revealing a nice white pepper spicing, with some sweet fruit and some pineapples.  Nice palate: not too dry, but with some nice flavours.  Good structure with pepper and chilli spice  on the finish, together with a nice acidity.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2006 Pinot Grigio, DOC Friuli Annia, Cav. Emiro Bortolusso, 13%
A fullish nose with some stone fruit and some herbal notes, plus some white flowers too.  Interesting flavours: this is more rustic in style with some residual sugar apparent.  It could be better integrated.  Quite fresh and tangy though.  Very Good.  86/100

2005 Pinot Grigio, DOC Friuli Latisana, Zaglia Giorgio
This has a much fruitier nose with some grassiness.  An interesting palate, this is lighter and fresher than the first two.  Very Good.  86/100

2006 Pinot Grigio, DOC Collio, Branko
A very concentrated, perfumed nose with some eau de vie de poire hints.  Big, full palate with ripe fruits, a good minerality, nice acidity and some spicing on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2006 Pinot Grigio, DOC Friuli Isonzo, Renzo Sgubin
Renzo Sgubin generally makes quite grapey wines apparently.  This has a rich, full, ripe nose: quite powerful, slightly waxy, white flowers combine with some pear fruit.  Initially this is lighter on the palate that you would expect, but after a few moments it fills out into a nice ripe palate with crisp pears and some pepper spice.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2004 Ramandolo, DOCG Ramandolo, La Roncaia
This has an attractive bronzey colour.  The nose is sweet and nutty with a dark honey note.  Thereís very good acidity on the palate, which keeps it very fresh and clean, though thereís also a real depth of flavour.  This is a very nice wine.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2002 Ramandolo Vendemmia Tardiva, DOCG Ramandolo, Dario Coos
This is a lighter style than the La Roncaia, and apparently itís undergone less air-drying.  It has a light, fragrant, floral nose with gentle apricots and honey.  Very nice, light, fresh palate, but thereís also good depth.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100


For more notes on Friuli's white wines, see here.

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Last updated: 10 July 2007