Description 1 of 1
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is located in the northeast corner of Italy, bordering Austria and Slovenia. The Julian Alps, named for Julius Caesar, preside over the northern landscape, while the south is comprised of villages and towns leading to the Gulf of Trieste. Being as close as it is to the country’s border, it’s historically been a veritable magnet for invasions, by everyone from Attila the Hun to Napoleon. In the 18th century, Charles of Hapsburg opened up Trieste and Fiume as “free trade” ports. But this only served to give Austria access to the Meditterranean and make these trade hubs very prosperous while the rest of the region was steeped in poverty. But after World War II, areas rich in agricultural traditions were able to benefit from the rise in modern industry and the region as a whole rose from its downtrodden past.
The Alps and Adriatic sea are the region’s great climate moderators. Mountainous DOCS to the north and east benefit from higher elevated vineyards that receive longer periods of sunshine, while still experiencing cooling effects, which allows for perfect balance in the grapes. While lower in the region, weather conditions are more stabilized thanks to proximity to the coast.
Given Friuli’s past, many of the varietals grown here have more of an international pedigree such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Merlot. Friulano is the signature indigenous white grape, once known as Tocai Friulano, but now required to drop the first part so as not to be confused with the prestigious Hungarian Tokaji (though some choose to refer to it by the cute nickname Tai). Other popular indigenous white grapes are Verduzzo (which is the grape of the Lison DOCG) and Picolit, the latter used mainly in sweet DOCG wines once favored by the nobility. Indigenous reds are Schioppettino (Ribola Nera), Refosco and Pignolo. Prosecco Trieste is the sparkling DOC. This and other sparkling wines in the area are produced mainly in the Charmat method. ~Amanda Schuster
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