ITALY | REGION PROFILE
Italy's Melting Pot
Friuli, or Friuli-Venezia Giulia to give it its full name, has a border with Slovenia to the east and with Austria to the north. Here you can see many wine producers with Slavic or Germanic sounding names such as Radikon, Gravner and Jermann. Friuli has a number of DOCs but most of the top producers are to be found up from the Italian plain into the hills around Gorizia and Udine, the most famous of which are Collio and Colli Oriental del Friuli. The region's production is around three quarters white, the highest proportion of any Italian region and is home to many of Italy's most ambitious and acclaimed of these wines.
In terms of grape varieties, there is the usual clutch of international varieties, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Franc to be found in abundance, but also many high quality local varieties such as Verduzzo, Ribolla Gialla and Refosco, among others. It is not unusual here for many of the top wines to be made from a blend of many varieties, and quite often made in an, it's reasonably fair to say, international style. On the other hand, there has been a movement here, initiated by the revered Josko Gravner, for wines made using ancient techniques, mostly using long macerations in Qvevri (large clay amphoras, originating in Georgia) with wines ending up with deep golden colours, the so-called 'orange' wines. These are remarkably profound wines, but very much an acquired taste.