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An Intro to Friuli Wines 

The Friuli wine region, technically in the Friuli-Venezia Guilia region of northeast Italy, has a set of unique geographical and historical characteristics that have led to the region’s mixed, rich range of beautiful wines and food.

The most common varietal associated with the region is Friulano, though there are many other wines coming out of the region. Here’s a bit of a breakdown.

History and region

  • Bordered by the Alps and Austria to the north, Slovenia to the east, the Adriatic Sea to the south and Italy’s Livenza River to the west
  • Friuili’s climatic conditions, are ideal for growing wine; the sub-Med conditions near the sea and the cool hills mean plenty of warm weather, rain fall and breezy winds, which helps balance acidity and sugar levels in grapes, and gives them a slow growing season
  • Because this region is situated at a geographical intersection of north, south and west, it has a complex history and of rulership and influence, which shows up in culture, cuisine and wine
  • Friuli was ruled for centuries under various empires, from Roman to Byzantine to Austro-Hungarian, and today has a fairly loose border with Slovenia; as such, the region is not just Italian in identity, but also has a good deal of Slavic and Germanic influence
  • With such influence and the coming and going of various groups and cultures, this region is recognised and being open to the new, the modern – in particular this is true in the case of wine…using more modern winemaking techniques; for example, they established a technique for pressing juice from white wine grapes very quickly to prevent oxidisation, which was very contemporary for its time, especially for a country as steeped in tradition as Italy

Friuli-Venezia Guilia is situated in northeastern Italy, bordering Austria, Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea (imagery provided by Google Maps)

The wine

  • It’s not too surprising then, that Friuli boasts the widest range of grapes, many of which are not Italian; red wine production is relatively low in this region, boasting high quality wines that can be more pricy than those from other regions; generally speaking speaking, Friuli is known for its white wines, which are refreshing and minerally, with stone and tropical fruit aromas – these are best enjoyed young
  • Wines from Friuli tend to emphasis usage of 100% of one varietal to embody the real essence of a grape, it’s fruit, and acidity, with minimal oaking
  • While Sangiovese rules across the rest of the nation state, Fruili’s most produced red wine in Merlot, but also produce Italian varietals like Tazzelenghe, Pignolo, Terrano, Schioppettino and Refosco, as well as Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • As for white wines wines, Friuliano is probably the most commonly associated varietal with the region, known for its crisp, floral and nutty expression; the region also produces some great Sauvignon Blanc, high in minerality and topical fruits (a bit less green than New Zealand styles, more akin to French, though a bit lighter and drinkable)
  • Other notable whites include Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Riesling, Verduzzo, Pinot Grigio and Ribolla Gialla; Picolit is also used in a popular dessert wine
  • Friuli is also the origin of orange wine, the chewy, skin-contact which have grown in popularity in recent years
  • There are 11 total DOC appellations in Friuli, and 3 DOCG designations; more often than not though, you’ll see those from Collio and Colli Orientali on wine lists, both of which produce some wonderful styles

Friuli’s cool hills, warm plains and Adriatic breeze provide ideal conditions for a slow growing season and balanced ripening of grapes

Explore our other favourite wine regions of the world, as well as those across Australia.

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