Saturday, December 5, 2015

Pignolo and Schioppettino and Picolit, oh my!

Welcome to our 14th month of our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group (#ItalianFWT). We're getting closer to rounding out covering all 20 regions in Italy and this month we feature the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia found in northeastern Italy bordering Slovania and Austria. I provided an overview of Friuli earlier in the week to give you a snapshot of what this region is all about. Today I'm sharing with you highlights of some of the native grapes produced within Friuli that make it special.

Friuli's wine producers pride themselves on the purest expressions of fruit. Most of the region is dominated by whites and some wine producers are using oak, but not like many of the white wines in the rest of the world. The wines here are all about freshness, acidic, aromatic, crisp wines with plenty of personality. It's a shame that there is so much mass marketed pinot grigio on the market because if you taste the whites of Friuli you'll know the real difference between those pinot grigio and the ones produced in Friuli.
white wines of friuli venezia giulia
By Luca Ciriani
Wine regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia
The terrain of Friuli begins with the Julian Alps to the north that roll down to the plains until it meets the Adriatic and Gulf of Trieste. Some of the top wine zones from this region include:
  • Collio Goriziano
  • Colli Orientali del Friuli
  • Isonzo
  • Carso
  • Grave del Friuli
  • Aquileia
Collio wine region of Friuli
Collio by Craig Dollett
There are plenty of international grapes grown in this region like chardonnay, sauvignon, pinot grigio, pinot bianco for whites and merlot, pinot nero and cabernet for reds. Personally one of the biggest reasons I love Italian wines is because of the hundreds of indigenous grapes that you can't find in other wine countries of the world.

Whites wines of Friuli
Some of the most full bodied white wines come from the Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli zones and include the grapes of ribolla gialla, Friulano and other whites. Friulano is a wine used to be known as tocai friulano until 2006 when the European Union prohibited the use of this name because of the closeness in name to Tokaji of Hungary. This same region is where you'll find what are known as orange wines. The orange wines are primarily based on the ribolla gialla grape and are oxidized and macerated with the skins for extended periods of time. A lot of times these wines are also agred in clay amphora.

Two of the 3 DOCG wines are dessert wines made in the Colli Orientali del Friuli. One of these wines is primarily made of the picolit grape producing wines of peach and apricot notes, the Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit DOCG. This grape suffers from flower abortion producing small yields so it's produced in limited amounts annually. For a dessert wine made of 100% picolit seek out the subzone of this area, Cialla. The other dessert wine is made of the grape verduzzo from the Ramandolo DOCG. A historical and one of the oldest wine areas of Friuli the grapes grow on steep terrain and is a wine that is a full bodied, elegant wine with high acidity and some tannins resulting in a wine that is overwhelming sweet.
Verduzzo from Ramandolo DOCG
The hills of Ramandolo by Silvia Malatini
Red Wines of Friuli
The red native grapes I mentioned previously including pignolo, tazzelenghe, refosco and schiopppettino are mostly found in the Colli Orientali del Friuli. Pignolo, a grape that produces wines of fruit and aromatics. With the refosco grape the profile of the wine depends on the kind of refosco the wine is made from as there are different refosco grapes. The best to seek out are those of the refosco dal peduncolo rosso. Schioppettino, also known as ribolla nera, was another Italian grape that faced extinction at one point due to phylloxera, but was thankfully saved. Although, a tricky grape to find. Lastly, tazzelenghe definitely won't be for the easy drinking wine drinker as it's a sharply acidic and tannic wine.
Refosco dal peduncolo rosso of Friuli
By Fabio Bruna

Now if we all had easy access to these grapes like the locals of this region we'd all be in heaven. Don't let seeking out these wines stop you. The bloggers of this group are located all over the US and the world and with the internet there are plenty of ways to access these wines easily. Have you had any of these wines and what was your opinion of the wines of Friuli?
Join our live chat Saturday December 5th at 11am EST on Twitter at #ItalianFWT.  We can't wait to hear from you.  

Here are the rest of my fellow bloggers featuring Friuli:

Culinary Adventures with Camilla – Roasted Lobster with Pesto + Ca'Bolani Sauvignon
Rockin Red Blog – Wine at the Center of Cultural Crossroads
Food Wine Click – Friuli Wines with Nutmeg Braised Goat
Enofylz Wine Blog  A Taste of Friuli, Got Prignolo?
Cooking Chat -  Lightened Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Wine from Friuli
Italophilia - Castello di Miramare: Pearl of the Adriatic
Orna - A Stroll through Grado: The Sunny Isle
The Wining Hour - Friuli Pinot Grigio and Roasted Branzino

We can't wait to start off the 2016 new year with you exploring some of the lesser known regions of Italy starting in January with the Basilicata region.  So come back on Saturday January 2nd as we explore the rest of Italy's regions.