Our Prosecco and Pinot Grigio are sourced from vineyards in Friuli Venezia Guilia (Friuli). So OK, we are slightly biased, but here are five reasons why we think Friuli produces some of the best white wines in Italy.
The Alps separate Italy and Austria to the North so the land naturally slopes South to the shore of the Adriatic Sea. A couple of recent ice ages (the last one only 10,000 years ago) and the retreating snow left calcium and sandstone in the hilly regions and mineral-rich soils of sand and gravel in the valley. The gravel is ideal for quality white winemaking as it reflects the heat in the day, whilst retaining some of the warmth overnight. The Graves del Friuli are named after the famed Graves region in Bordeaux due to their shared alluvial and gravel soil traits (alluvial soil -means fertile soil from old flood plains/ waterways etc).
Friuli’s climate is determined by the constant arm wrestle of cool air from the mountains (Alps) meeting warmer weather from the sea. This tussle results in a growing period categorised by hot days and cold nights, which keeps the growth of grapes in check. In turn, the growing season is longer and allows the fruit to develop a fine balance of acidity and sugar. Great conditions for white winemakers.
3. Rich culture
The region has a rich cultural history with its current borders only being settled 10 years after World War Two. Friuli’s proximity to Venice, as well as being an important gateway for the ancient spice trade has been an influence going back before the Romans. More recently ( well the last few hundred years) the region was sometimes part of the Austrian- Hungarian Empire or split and ruled by various other factions, All of this has made Friuli a true melting pot of cultures and influenced the development of the regions wine making.
4. White winemaking hot-spot
For centuries winemakers in the region have built a reputation for experimentation and innovation. A good illustration is before the pan- European phylloxera outbreak, there were estimated to be 350 grape varietals grown in the region! More recently producers have developed numerous new methods to improve production, including techniques to limit oxidisation in white winemaking that have been adopted around the world. Just as importantly producers are re-introducing traditional winemaking methods from their ancestors to produce exceptional wines (eg Orange winemaking). If you want to make good white wine, it’s one of the best places to be in the world to learn, experiment and create.
5.Home of Prosecco
5.Home of Prosecco
From the wine of celebration to being the drink of choice straight after Sunday Mass, Italians have a special affinity with Prosecco. The exact origin of Prosecco is up for debate. but the regions of Fruili and Veneto are the spiritual home of the varietal. Back in the 1960’s Prosecco was generally quite sweet, similar to Asti Spumante of the Piemonte region. But again showing their appetite for change Friulian’s have reinvented the varietal (more dry styles and improved production techniques) creating a global wine phenomenon. Worldwide sales of Prosecco are now double Champagne, making the varietal one of Italy’s most important exports.
Our new 2019 Pinot Grigio is a great example of Friulian white winemaking. The vintage was initially affected by rain, but then some significant high temperatures and a long Indian summer meant a slightly longer growing season. The resultant fruit allowed some extended ‘skin contact, giving our wine more weight and a beautiful textural finish.
(Image taken in the awesome Prince Wine Store - Melbourne)