17/FEB/2017 in Press
A look at Friuli Venezia Giulia and its wonders, including prestigious terroir and niche varieties
More than half a billion bottles produced per year, three times more than three years ago. These are the numbers of Prosecco.
Take a train in August from Udine to Treviso and you will see these numbers becoming visual reality. A forcefulness that is almost erotic. Morbid. And if this starts to cover more than half of the vineyard area of Friuli Venezia Giulia, I decide to get off this train that is going too fast for me to steer a little bit more towards the East.
Starting from the hills of Ramandolo and surroundings, where the Verduzzo Friulano meets one of its best expressions. And since I'm here I go up till Soffumbergo, the "balcony over Friuli". It’s not simply like that, not a simple balcony. When the days are clear you can see Venice! A view that whispers: do not look at me and that’s it. Come and discover me. And so be it.
And then in a moment you arrive in Cividale. And then Cialla. And Spessa. And Prepotto. And the Abbey of Rosazzo. The Colli Orientali del Friuli (eastern hills of Friuli) is one of the most important areas for autochtonous vines. Here Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Picolit, Schioppettino, Refosco DPR, Pignolo get that care that only specific winemakers can give. They have to be prepared, respectful of the territory and forward thinking. The result is excellent. Here it feels so good that even the international vines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Grigio, Cabernet F. & S. and Merlot give their best.
From the top, the Ruttàrs cru stares at us. An harmony of terraced vineyards that catches you. You have to fall in love with it! And then you come back so many times just because you're in love with it. Without notice, we we have arrived to the Collio. Even if you follow a GPS or the advice of a gourmet guide, often you take the wrong road. Luckily. Because what happens is that you might enter the court of a small winery where, it is true, you enter as a customer and you go out as a friend. And you go out more conscious, realizing that a bottle of wine is much more than a bottle of wine, it combines an invaluable wealth of culture, traditions and know-how.
These mineral soils and the progressive approach to the sea give us another terrific wine: the Malvasia Istriana. Heady fragrance and a salty flavor that remains on your lips confirm a love that will last forever. Cormons and Capriva del Friuli offer unique landscapes. And the white and red wines produced here are unique as well.
And the same in Farra d'Isonzo and surroundings. Very beautiful!
If in the summer all these areas are at their best splendor thanks to the development of the vines, autumn is the season that lights up the Carso. You won’t forget its warm colors. Walking in a narrow alley of a highland village, protected by the high stone walls of the houses, opening with a little bit of irreverence one of the wonderful arched wooden doors, it might happen to enter an osmiza (typical place where you get some food and wine) still closed to the public, with a view on the Gulf of Trieste that takes your breath away. And then you look down. You look at these terraces hanging over the sea. And so you go down among the vines of Terrano and Vitovska, not higher than forty centimeters to resist against the lashing gusts of the wind “Bora”. And you walk on a land with very little soil. Here is rock. So much rock. Only rock. Heroic viticulture.
Then the winemaker wants to make you heroic as well and tells you “follow me”. And you go underground through a vertical iron ladder hanging from the rocks along a narrow tunnel of a cave. You go down. You go down. And downstairs he is waiting for you, holding two glasses of Vitovska unfiltered. Carefree. The desire to go back upstairs is not so pressing, but the desire to continue the journey is stronger.
In this land of extraordinary beauty. Listening to Frank Sinatra. Nothing but the best.