Marco Felluga and Russiz Superiore are two wineries under one umbrella that demonstrate the quality that the wine region of Friuli in northeastern Italy is capable of producing. Giovanni Felluga, the father of current owner Marco Felluga, moved to Collio within Friuli after World War I in the 1930’s. Marco took over the family business in 1956 moving the wine operations to the area of Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli, but the family heritage has been in the wine industry since the 1800’s in the area of Istria. Marco had been educated in oenology at the well known university in Conegliano. Today the wine is operating 6 generations of the Felluga family with Marco’s son, Roberto, managing both Marco Felluga and Russiz Superiore.
The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy is tiny tucked up in the northeastern corner bordering the Venezia region to the west and Austria and Slovenia. It is surrounded by the Julian Alps to the north and close proximity to the Adriatic Sea with a mild climate providing ideal winegrowing conditions with warm days and cool nights.
The soils of this area, once the ocean floor, are rich with minerals and made up of limestone and clay where water permeates off the soil limiting the amount of erosion.
When I’ve visited these regions of the north there are many cultural influences depending upon its borders. This region gained a lot of popularity with the influx of pinot grigio on the market in the 70’s. Unfortunately, pinot grigio always has a tainted image due to the mass production of lower quality wines, but Friuli and Marco Felluga featured today have tried to turn that all around. When folks ever ask me for some of my favorite white wines of Italy I typically point them to this region.
Marco Felluga is located in Gradisca d’Isonzo within the province of Gorizia in Friuli. It’s a fortified town that dates back to the 1300’s under the Venetian Republic. It’s vineyards are spread amongt 4 different vineyard sites each with their own characteristics located in: Oslavia, Cormons, San Floriano del Collio and Farra d’Isonzo. a fortified citadel of the Venetian Republic dating back to the 1300’s.
Russiz Superiore, on the other hand, has it's vineyards set amongst the winery itself located in Capriva del Friuli, also within the Gorizia province. This winery was purchased almost 10 years later in 1967 after Marco Felluga was established. It’s name is derived “superior” location set high up in the hills. The wines produced under this brand are considered the “cru” and more prestigious of the two brands.
Even though Friuli and the winery’s primary focus is on whites there are some solid red wines being produced in Friuli that are sure not to be missed. Marco Felluga produces everything from pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, friulano, ribolla gialla and chardonnay for whites to cabernet franc, refosco, merlot and cabernet sauvignon for reds. You’ll typically see many single varietals from this region. The Collio DOC in which they are produced was the 3rd granted DOC within Italy back in 1964.
I had the opportunity to meet Roberto Felluga and his daughter, Ilaria, last year at a tasting by wine importer Dalla Terra in the Boston area. Being the wine geek that I am I get truly excited when I have the opportunity to meet families of Italian wineries and get a little nervous as if I’m meeting a Hollywood star. Marco and Ilaria were the most welcoming and shared great conversation with me about their wines. It’s always amazing to me how humble some folks are when he has really paved the way for quality in this region.
2016 Marco Felluga Pinot Grigio “Mongris” Collio DOC
The wine is named “Mongris” for the mono variety, pinot grigio, and gris, which is what its called in this area representing pinot grigio. Made from 100% pinot grigio this wine is aged in stainless steel this wine is very aromatic and crisp, clean and light bodied with apple notes on the palette. I have to highlight though that one of my favorite wines from the tasting I attended was their 2009 Collio Pinot Grigio Riserva Mongris. This just showed how outstanding these wines are with age. Plus, this wine was unique since 30% of this was aged in barrel, not typical with white wines of this area highlighting how innovative Roberto Felluga and his family’s traditions are. It spent 2 years on the lees resulting in a wine with much structure and complexity. ABV 13.5% SRP $18
2014 Marco Felluga “Molamatta” Collio DOC
This is their white blend of 40% pinot bianco, 40% Friulano and 20% ribolla gialla. Straw in color with a beautiful nose of lemon citrus with some tropical notes. Lots of nuances coming through producing a nice round, elegant wine medium in body with good acidity. A mineral/salty finish with good length. ABV 13.% SRP $25
2015 Russiz Superiore Cabernet Franc Collio DOC
Deep ruby in color this wine showed lots of white pepper with aromatics of green pepper, blackberries and vanilla tied with some herbal nuances. Quite the unique wine! ABV 13% SRP $30
2016 Russiz Superiore Sauvignon Collio DOC
Pale straw colored another beautifully aromatic wine with a grassy on the nose with some citrus. Crisp, clean and nicely balanced, light bodied with a nice elegance and softness. One of my favorite whites I tasted in the lineup. I also tried their 2009 and a very different wine with some petrol notes and more roundness to it. I really was enjoying the wines I tried with age. ABV 13.5% SRP $28
Of course the general rule of thumb is to drink white wines in their youth, but Marco Felluga has shown the ageability that white wines are capable of. With age it’s stated that these wines will show their mineral characteristics of the land and ripe fruits.
Just as an added FYI I also tried the 2011 Marco Felluga Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso “Ronco Dei Moreri” IGT and was one of my other favorites from the tasting! It seemed that I tended to lean more towards the Russiz Superiore wines for personal preference so please try them for yourselves and let me know what you fall in love with.
*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are gladly my own.