Wine Gems of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia

By 22 Marzo 2021Wine Gems

An authentic destination to discover the rare and unexpected..

Hidden in the northeast of the “boot” of Italy, the region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia protects with its borders a complex and charming diversity of wine and food production. It is a unique voyage from the Adriatic sea, through sunny and bright hills to the extreme and massive Julian Alps. The roads and knowledge of tourism seem to end on the imaginary line drawn by Venice, but this land preserves a bountiful cradle of Italian culture and Northern European subcultures due to the proximity with Austria, Germany and Slovenia. The extraordinary microclimates and the various farming conditions give rise to four wine appellations: DOC Friuli Colli Orientali, DOC Collio, DOC Friuli Isonzo, DOC Carso.

These four wine zones, together with the other appellation of the Friuli, are home to some of the rarest native grapes north of Italy: Ribolla Gialla, Friulano, Malvasia Istriana, Verduzzo, Picolit as white varieties, and Refosco, Pignolo, Schioppettino, Terrano as red. There are also no shortages in international grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Nero, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and of course Pinot Grigio, which in this region, find particular conditions to develop wines of incredible character. Friuli is an astonishing, tucked away spot with wine themed hamlets and picturesque villages like Prepotto, Cormons, Cividale del Friuli, Gradisca d’Isonzo all bordering each other. A particular destination for wine connoisseurs and oenophiles who love to discover the secrets behind the scene of some of north Italy’s finest micro-wineries.

It’s an honor to share the stories of Silvana Forte, Josko Gravner, Fulvio Bressan, Beniamino Zidarich. Four family-run states located in four different wine areas: Le Due Terre, Gravner, Bressan, Zidarich. The majestic wines made by these producers, reflect the personal, strong identity of each of them. 

Le due Terre, Prepotto

Situated in the Colli Orientali, on the far eastern border, this winery is one of the smallest in Friuli. It counts four hectares of field and has always been committed to the artisan quality of its wines, making itself known over the years by a large audience of wine collectors all over the world. Run by Silvana Forte and her family,  “Le Due Terre” is a tribute to the terroir of the area, rich in microelements and characterized by two types of soils: clay and marl (ponca), which crumbles into flakes. Their farming is biologically organic, the use of chemicals is banned. With their small production of 17,000 bottles a year, the winery gave particular attention to the native variety of the Schioppettino di Prepotto. This Friulian variety is cultivated extensively in the municipality of Prepotto where the winery is based. There it has found a home of such excellence that it motivated a group of farmers to found an association to protect and promote it. Their approach to farming is “less is more”, there is full awareness of the impact on the environment–in short, they make wine in a natural style. The vines follow their full route to reflect the particular identity of the local terroir. Le Due Terre estate’s attention is on the native grapes, a care that is shown in the two labels of the Sacrisassi. The white wine is a blend of Friulano and Ribolla Gialla grapes, medium-bodied, soft, fragrant, powerful and intense, rich in fruity and mineral notes. The red wine, under the same name,  is a combination of Schioppettino and Refosco grapes, it is an energetic red, light fresh aroma with hints of species. 

White wines:

  • Sacrisassi Bianco | Grapes: Friulano 70%,  Ribolla Gialla 30%

Red wines:

  • Sacrisassi Rosso | Grapes: Schioppettino 50%, Refosco 50%
  • Merlot | Grapes: 100% Merlot
  • Pinot Nero | Grapes: 100% Pinot Nero

Gravner, Oslavia

There are many great interpreters in the Collio wine scene, each of which reveal their individualism. Josko Gravner, the owner and mind behind the charming winery Gravner, has his own way to celebrate nature. He believes  that patience is an essential factor in producing wine, the moon cycles, the transformations, the seasons, and the work need to  be respected and synchronized.  Sometimes nature needs inactivity and rest. Being without a doubt one of the most iconic cellars of the region. Josko  is recognized as the pioneer of the macerated white wines in Italy. In 1994 Josko first began experimenting with macerating white wines. The surprisingly exquisite results in 1997 was a pivotal point in his winery production, extending the maceration process to all his white wines. Gravner’s approach on the vinification took him to travel to the  South Caucasus region (Kaketi, Georgia). Josko has always desired to see these regions that were the birth-place of the vine, but his travels were impeded due to the geopolitical imbalances… since the 2000. His voyage sanctioned the start of his famous work on vinifying in buried amphora, a method utilized for 5,000 years in those lands. Josko was able to witness the ancient wine making process and adopted the methods, bringing the practice back to Italy. It was a turning point for the cellar that, from then on, would solely vinify in amphoras to produce some of the most outstanding wines to experience. The features of his white wines are unique and complex with an unbelievably long lasting potential.

White wines:

  • Ribolla | Grapes: 100% Ribolla Gialla
  • Ribolla Riserva | Grapes: 100% Ribolla Gialla
  • Pinot Grigio Riserva | Grapes: Pinot Grigio
  • Bianco Breg | Grapes: Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Riesling Italico (** last vintage 2012)

Red wines:

  • Rosso Gravner | Grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Rosso Breg | Grapes: 100% Pignolo
  • Rujno Riserva | Grapes: Merlot  (** only available in selected vintages)  


 

Bressan, Farra d’Isonzo

Just south of Collio, the Isonzo river runs on an alluvial plain from the Julian Alps, transporting a rich treasure of nutrients to the soil which features result poor in chalk and rich in clay–perfect conditions to grow white and red grapes. Located in Farra d’Isonzo, ten kilometres from Gorizia, is the family winery of Bressan. The estate occupies a surface area of about 20 hectares with a vine density of almost 5000 hectare plants. This spot captures an exceptional combination of natural elements (geography, geology and climate), a terroir of unique features for the cultivation of grapevines. Fulvio Bressan is known as the champion of the native grapes. His wines are a prime example of territory excellence, result of diligent work and care from the vineyards to the bottle. The simplicity of natural taste and the purity of letting the land and the vine work together, find maximum expression in the elegant, full bodied, floral wines of the Bressan winery.  Absolutely beautiful! 

White wines:

  • Carat | Grapes: Tocai Friulano, Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla
  • Verduzzo Friulano | Grapes: 100% Verduzzo (dry)
  • Grigio in Grigio | Grapes: 100% Pinot Grigio
  • Rosantico | 100% Moscato Rosa (dry)

Red wines:

  • Schioppettino | Grapes: 100% Schioppettino (Ribolla Nera)
  • Pignol | Grapes: 100% Pignolo
  • Ego | Grapes: 50% Schioppettino, 50% Cabernet Franc
  • Pinot Nero | Grapes: 100% Pinot Nero
  • N°3 | Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Nero, Schioppettino

Zidarich, Duino-Aurisina 

Heading down to the south, getting close to the Adriatic coast, the scenario is completely different. The territory of Karst (Carso)  is a wild, poor, barren and difficult area, shaped by time and erosions of limestone rocks. A land of the extraordinary potentiality with a grumpy character. Benjamin Zidarich, with his low-intervention winemaking on his ten hectares of field, was able to tame the wild features and enhance the prestige of this land. The vineyard areas are limited, it is difficult to create new space, but the soil is rich in minerals and limestone. The wind from the sea “bora” has an impact on the health of the plant, they do not need to intervene with chemical treatments because nature takes care of itself, everything is carried by the wind. All the vineyards of this winery overlook the sea in a place that leaves you speechless, facing the sea, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. The winery’s cellar is carved into the rock, in harmony with the rocky landscapes of the Karst area. The wines macerate with the skins for a substantial amount of time, a characterizing tradition that has always been the basis of Zidarich’s production process. His mission looks into the future, as Benjamin aims to produce long lasting wines to put on the market, wines with 7 to 8 year old vintages that never lose their fresh terroir qualities. One gem from this  winery is the Vitovska. It is a fantastic variety that is proving to be more and more interesting and is giving more and more astonishing results. It was always present on these lands, hidden in the folds of centuries old peasant culture. Also Malvasia and Terrano are the other two native varieties which identify the imprint of Zidarich wines .

White wines:

  • Vitovska | Grapes: 100% Vitovska
  • Vitovska Collection | Vitovska 100%
  • Zelena Vitovska Kamen | Grapes: Vitovska 100%
  • Malvasia | Grapes: 100% Malvasia
  • Prulke | Grapes: 60% Sauvignon, 20% Vitovska 20%, Malvasia 20%

Red wines:

  • Teran Terrano | Grapes: 100% Terrano
  • Ruje | Grapes: 85% Merlot e 15%Terrano
  • Rdeci Roz Green| Grapes: 40% Merlot, 40%Terrano, 20% Refosco dal peduncolo Rosso 
  • ZI-DA Green | Grapes: Terrano 100%

 

The richness of food culture… 

While the wine production maintains its presence by betting on its native roots, the gastronomy of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia represents an abstract portrait of various traditions influenced by subcultures. From the humble pasta e fagioli (pasta with bean), through the typical Frico (a seasoned cheeses-base dish, with potatoes and onions) to rich and flavourful wild game.  The territory is siphoned with local products of exquisite quality and skilled personalities. 

An example of remarkable artisan production is the prosciutto of the D’Osvaldo family. The father-son business of the art of ham making has been since 1940, located in an ancient 1800 villa that was acquired in 1982 by Giacomo D’Osvaldo who imported smoking conservation methods from Eastern Europe. Now co-run by Lorenzo, his wife Lucia, and their children Monica and Andrea, they have managed to maintain the old ham-smoking process and improve it by burning cherry wood and selected flowers which give a delicate, sweet touch to the prosciutto. All their small pigs are born and raised in Friuli and follow a strict diet made up exclusively of maize, barley, soy, and alfalfa.

Nearby, the Zoff family is producing fine aromatic cheeses, benefitting from the sensational nutrients of the grass for their red-spotted cows. Their organic farm is open to visitors for insight classes about their old traditional methods and to place their feet on the ground of a Friuli cheese farm.

La Subida… A gourmet retreat

Between the vineyards and the forest of Cormons, there is a place that seems to be intrinsically part of nature. It is the luxury retreat at la Subida, where the Sirk family is able to combine the quality wine & food with an innovative but deeply traditional hospitality. Everything started when the young couple, Josko and Loreda Sirk, qualified and enhanced an Osteria in the 80s. The so-called “Trattoria al Cacciatore” quickly became the flagship of the culinary evolution of the territory. A restaurant that knew how to melt the tradition of the Slovenian cuisine with that of the Friuli region to transform them into fine and gourmet dishes. The success took the Sirk family to widen their ambitions. They soon opened the doors to warm, charming, and deluxe hospitality. La Subida is the perfect place to get to know Collio and its surroundings. The details are impeccable, the professionals and staff at La Subida are passionately dedicated to pursue the warm and quality welcoming. Their glass cabins in the wood are silent rooms immersed in a dense green background. To sleep in there is an exciting experience in the closest touch with nature, surrounded by the forest sounds and covered by a blanket of shiny stars in the dark of the nights. 

SPREADING AWARENESS:

All my support to STILL I RISE, an independent organization offering education and protection to the world’s most vulnerable children.

Filippo Magnani

Tuscany – Italy
T: +39 335 53 477 04
O: +39 0565 82 70 44
E: fm@filippomagnani.it

© Filippo Magnani

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