January 20, 2007 - Jack (Updated January 28)

Welcome to
Wine Blogging Wednesday #41!

Fork & Bottle hosted the January 2008 edition:

Gravner, Miani, Zuani, White wines from Fruili Italy - Wine blogging Wednesday

Our Theme was
Friuli-Venezia Giulia white wines

Greetings, Wine Lovers!

This month's participants were asked to acquire and report on at least one Friuli-Venezia Giulia white wine. Why? Because Friuli, to me, has become the most exciting wine region in the world. (So exciting, it's bolded!)

What varietals are we talking about? Tocai Friulano (soon to be known as just Friulano), Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon (blanc), Malvasia Istriana, Chardonnay, Ribolla Gialla, Vitovska, Riesling, and Pinot Grigio (amongst others). In general, the wines have good, but not dominating or searing, acids. 2006 is supposed to be a "vintage of the century", but almost all of the best 2006s have yet to be released.

Thanks to all of you for participating!

The Roundup, Sorted:

Varietals that are not TF/PG

Lyle Fass of Rockss and Fruit, first-time WBWer (I believe), writes up two of the most interesting tasting wines of this WBW. He had the best bottle of Radikon he's ever had. It had an "... apricot skin color in the glass and celestial, I kid you not, celestial aromas of brown sugar, red-Pinot-like fruit, minerals and stone fruit skins. The palate has dazzling babbling brook-like minerality along with stellar concentration, great delineation and a long fruit-soaked finish." The Zidarich Prulke (a blend of Sauvignon, Malvasia and Vitovska) to have a "color of lemonade...aromas of lemon, lime, grapefruit and minerals. Amazing purity and depth on the palate with a nice sappy fruit core and incredible depth."
2002 Radikon Ribolla Gialla
2005 Zidarich Prulke

Alder Yarrow of Vinography reports on the only wine made by the top producer in the Carso area of Friuli. It was really great. And another Friuli orange-colored wine that rocks. Alder has a long, excellent post on this rare wine.
2002 Vodopivec Vitovska

Andrea Gori of Vino da Burde (our Italian participant this month) chose a wine that reminds him of Gravner's whites: "The wine is an enormous Ribolla Gialla (yellow Ribolla) biodynamic style, aged partly in old amphoras. Impressive when it’s cold, with fruits (of) apricot, apple, ginger and, gorgeous when it gets warm, developing layers of sweet notes and spices." He really enjoyed this wine.
2003 Damian Podversic Ribolla Gialla

Sean Sellars and Jacob Gaffney of InterWined.com have a nice post with a fun-to-watch 90 second podcast about this wine. He basically says it's varietal-ly correct, well balanced and has a surprising long finish. That's a winner!
2004 Ronco del Gnemiz Sauvignon

Rob Wolters of My Wine Information and our only participant from the Netherlands (Nederland), found two interesting wines which he really liked. Interesting that the 2005 & 2006 Storico get Tre Bicchieri awards.
2006 Tenuta Ca' Bolani Sauvignon
2004 Adriano Gigante Storico Tocai Friulano

David Baer (winebaer) is enthusiastic about the better Friuli-Venezia Giulia. He quite liked the Vigna Traverso... "at one point, I had the feeling I was licking the pith of a lemon (and liking it!)". This Ribolla was the starting wine for a dinner with "...the likes of von Schubert, Grivot, Nicholas Joly, Lopez de Heredia, among others) and it kept pace with nearly all of the other wines that evening."
2006 Vigna Traverso Ribolla Gialla

David McDuff of McDuff's Food & Wine Trail's first wine, the Conti Attems, "was just plain undrinkable...and a flavor of canned creamed corn." Yep, spit that out. The Colle Duga was too dominated by candied flavors and paint thinner. Yep, spit that out. But the Ferdinand (a wine he sells) was quiet nice. Bonus points awarded for choosing a non-Movia Slovenian wine, the Ferdinand.
2004 Conti Attems Tocai Friulano
2005 Colle Duga di Damian Princic Tocai Friulano
2006 Ferdinand Ribolla Gialla

Jill Bernheimer of Domaine547 had the choice of the first three (below) or the Bastinich Vespa Bianco. You can tell she now regrets not getting the Vespa. Jill scores bonus points for choosing two grape varietals which no one else tried: Verduzzo and Traminer.
2006 Blason Pinot Grigio
2005 Ermacora Verduzzo
2006 Bastianich Tocai Friulano
2006 Dorigo Traminer

Jeff of the beautiful blog, Goodgrape, did not seem into this theme: He spent "a whopping $7.99" and then didn't actually offer the tasting note in his WBW post (but there's a link to it). As you might guess, with Friuli-Venezia Giulia not being a "value" region, he scored the wine low. Or maybe the score is actually high for an $8 Italian white wine.
2001 Forchir Villa del Bargo Chardonnay

Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook really liked the Tocai, but would have preferred the Sauvignon Blanc in May. This new blog has some interesting wild game recipes, too.
2002 Tenuta Villanova Sauvignon
2003 Marco Felluga Tocai Friulano

At Fork & Bottle, we satisfied, slightly, our curiosity about a couple of the most expensive white wines produced in this region. We liked both wines but the cost did not jive with their pleasure. But Jack thinks that a re-tasting in 5-7 years could tell a different story.
2006 Miani Ribolla Gialla
2004 Jermann Capo Martino

Italian Super Whites
Details on four upcoming tastings of Italy's Super Whites are here. These wines have a proprietary name, which I have italicized.

Neil of Brooklynguy's Wine and Food Blog tasted three wines: The Sirch he found "tasty, but not memorable." He has more descriptors for the Movia than I can count, suggesting lots of complexity. For the i Clivi, he loved the nose but wished there was more acidity. He summed up both the Movia and Clivi as compelling wines.
2001 i Clivi Galea Corno di Rosazzo
2005 Movia Pinot Grigio
2006 Sirch Ribolla Gialla

Catherine of a Purple Liquid chose a wine that was a blend of Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, and Pinot Bianco, and really loved it. This was what you wanted to find: "mouth-coating flavors and a sappy mineral finish " in an "excellent wine. ($28)
2005 Marco Felluga Molamatta

Andrew Chapman of Surf4Wine pulled a bottle from his wine shop. It was the Shàrjs, a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% barrel-fermented Ribolla. He quite liked it, and thinks it would pair best with oven-roasted sea-bass.
2006 Livio Felluga Shàrjs

Carol Bancroft of Pour More still doesn't know the varietals of her white blend (the producer/importer are keeping it a secret), but the nose smelled California Chardonnay-ish. With relief, the wine didn't taste anything like that and was one of the most unusual white wines she's had. It had "a wonderful, creamy mouthfeel and tastes of dried apricots (there was a concentrated sweetness) and almonds..."
2004 Vidussi Ronchi di Ravez

Tocai Friulano

John, The Corkdork, wrote, "I got a thrilling wine...", which happened to be a Tocai Friulano blended with some Malvasia. He says, "The first thing that hits you is how fresh the wine smells, like it was just pressed with the headiness of the must rising from the tank. Then comes gentle flowery tones, honey, seaside minerals, and a hint of banana tropicals. The lack of filtration makes the wine coat the palate in a lovely way, with some nice heft. Five years of age has left her mark, imparting a beautiful glow in the glass."
2002 i Clivi Brazan

I didn't realize that Derrick Schneider of Obsession With Food liked Movia wines so much. I think Derrick is just normally quiet in his enthusiasm. But his WBW post is quite enthusiastic about this wine and Aleš Kristančič, Movia's winemaker. It could be these wines are often great values. But, maybe Derrick was charmed during that evening at A16 when Aleš poured us his 1959 Ribolla and 1988 Pinot Nero?
2006 Movia Gredic Tocai Friulano

Tim Elliott of Winecast chose a Furlanski Tokaj, the Slovenian name for Tocai Friulano. It scored. Summing the wine up... "A very unique and full-bodied white that will not appeal to everyone but I think it’s delicious. An outstanding value."
2004 Movia Gredic Tocai Friulano

Joe Roberts, 1WineDude, found this Friulano to have a "gorgeous pale lemon color", with citrus and a hint of pineapple on the nose. It's crisp acidity paired well with mild mango salsa. He was almost intimidated that a famous wine writer had also reviewed this wine (six long paragraphs!).
2005 Conte Brandolini d'Adda Tocai Friulano

Andrew of Eating Hong Kong found the Villa Russiz to have flavours of cantaloupe, nectarines, grapefruit and pears. But the 15% alc. left an unpleasant finish. Villa Russiz's profits go to a charity. I've awarded bonus photo points here, so click.
2006 Villa Russiz Tocai Friulano

Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 found that the Blason was like a "lightly-oaked, super-structured sauvignon blanc...with abundant acidity" that made the wine very refreshing. She paid just $10 and found this to be a 'Very Good QPR on her scale. This was her first Tocai Friulano, too. She also shows a very nice map of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
2006 Blason Tocai Friulano

Jeff Cleveland of Indiscriminate Ideas was excited to find a wine from one of the most regarded producers in F-VG. However, he describes this wine as "like the very best Pinot Grigio on steroids" - and this was not a positive description. It wasn't really bad, just cost twice what it was worth.
2004 Schiopetto Tocai Friulano

Michelle Lentz at My Wine Education found in her cellar a Livio Felluga wine: "The wine was bold up front, with fruit, but it wasn't your average fruit. More like dried pineapples and a little bit of lemon zest. I found the fruit flavors a bit exotic." Although she found some bitterness in the finish that wasn't appreciated, she seemed to be pretty happy with this wine.
2004 Livio Felluga Tocai Friulano

Sonadora (Megan) from Wannabe Wino could not find any Friuli whites in her local wine stores. (Time to move?) But she scored during a trip to CT, and at a DC restaurant. This was a lot of work to get to taste her her first two Tocai Friulanos! She seemed to give the nod to the Livio Felluga, a producer particularly known for his Collio super white blend, Terre Alte.
2005 Livio Felluga Tocai Friulano
2006 di Lenardo Toh! Tocai Friulano

John, who writes Anything Wine, didn't have much to choose from. He thought this wine was pretty good but not great. Surprising long finish, smell/taste of a Viognier/Pinot Gris blend, but something just wasn't quite right.
2006 di Lenardo Toh! Tocai Friulano

Justin who writes The Grape Less Traveled had his first Tocai Friulano, and picked an excellent producer to start with. Although he felt it wasn't a good QPR, the wine was very solid and the "finish was fairly long and it is a nicely balanced wine."
2006 Villa Russiz Tocai Friulano

Dan Fullick of D.O.C. Dan of Chicago was a first time participant of WBW. Dan and friends really enjoyed this wine with ahi poke. A friend noted "white jelly beans", assertive acids and tropical fruit aromas. He summed it up as "a great wine at the price point."
2002 Ronco Cucco Tocai Friulano

Colin at Wine Sediments enjoyed a Friulano (the first bottle/photo I've seen that no longer has Tocai on it!), finding it to be "the perfect end to a long day." He recorded notes of citrus and apricot, and found it to be well balanced.
2005 Le Vigne di Zamo Tocai Friulano

Dave Chouiniere (aka OrionSlayer) of Wine Connections was a first time WBWer, so check his blog out. He says this wine, "was a little light in flavor, but it had nice acidity. I also read in “Vino Italiano” that some of the cold fermentation went too far and “stripped the wines of any real character.”"
2005 Sirch Tocai Friulano

Andrew Hwang of RougeAndBlanc compared, in detail, two Tocai Friulano. He wasn't that wild about either, but drank them happily enough.
2005 Sirch Tocai Friulano
2006 Bastianich Tocai Friulano

Cassandra Johnson at Vinewords jumped the gun a bit, posting back on January 2nd. She preferred the Giordano Sirch, especially the interesting taste, but wasn't really impressed with either.
2004 Sirch Tocai Friulano
2006 Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio

James of Second Leaf spent $28 for this Pinot Grigio (yes, that's a new WBW record!), and was amazed at how wonderful it was. "The nose exuded layers of flowers, green apples, lemon zest, and a touch of marjoram yet still had a cloak of steely minerality." He goes on to say, "Contemplating the Lis Neris Gris was truly a revelation for me. How could a variety such as Pinot Grigio that is seemingly locked into a reputation as a light-fare quaffer exhibit such fullness and complexity?"
(Gambero Rosso gave this wine Three Glasses, one of only two Pinot Grigio to score their top award.)
2004 Lis Neris Gris Pinot Grigio

Amy Otto of West Coast Wine Country Adventures tried two and liked both, though she preferred the cheaper wine, the Pinot Grigio. The Friulano was definitely more complex but she found the sour lemon notes a bit off-putting, and wished for more acidity.
2006 Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio
2004 Russiz Superiore Tocai Friulano

Like Amy, above, Andrea Middleton of Wine Scamp, "saw this adorable bottle with its cute little twig wrapped up in ribbon" and took it home. (Score two for wine marketing gurus.) She has quite a fun write-up for you to read, including, this great wine is "Racy like anime!"
2006 Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio

Becky (Taster B) of Smells Like Grape was shy about mentioning all three wines. The one she didn't email about, the Albola, was from the minor appellation of Friuli Aquileia. Becky wrote a really nice post - check it out:
2006 Bortoluzzi Pinot Grigio
2005 Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio
2005 Albola Pinot Grigio

For Farley Walker of Behind the Vines, this WBW theme brought back memories of the one day she spent in Italy (Venice)...now she has to get there again. Farley found that the Pinot Grigio's minerality and tartness a match for the blood orange vinaigrette dressing and goat cheese in her salad. I think she liked this wine.
2005 Ciani Pinot Grigio

Rob, The Cornell Sommelier, is another first time WBWer. He thought the Petrucco was an okay QPR, but thinks there's lots better out there for the money.
2005 Petrucco Pinot Grigio

Michael Mohammadi of a food and wine blog - Baltimore, MD found the Pighin to have notes of pineapple, jasmine, and flowers on the nose. Along with two friends, they all noted the great fruits and acidity. Scoring it 88 pts and very good value for $12.
2005 Pighin Pinot Grigio

Kori Voorhees of Wine Peeps, first time WBW participant, blind-tasted five wines. Kori didn't really like any, but felt the Felluga was much better than the others, yet not a good value for the money. I think Kori wants to forget about the others. (Wines listed from "good to ugh".)
2006 Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio
2006 Attems Pinot Grigio
2006 Pighin Pinot Grigio
2006 Campanile Pinot Grigio
2005 Benvolio Pinot Grigio

Alex of Eating Leeds and Andrew (below) purchased the one available Friuli white at Oddbins. Alex found it to be not complex, too sweet and unbalanced. (Not a wine to drink, eh?) At £8.49, this is just one more reason why I never shop at Oddbins when in the UK.
2005 Valter Scarbolo le Fredis Pinot Grigio

Andrew Barrow of Spittoon says that, "Valter Scarbolo acts as grower, cellar-man, restaurateur and acclaimed pork butcher with a proper 'hands-on' attitude to the vineyard." Andrew thought that this Pinot Grigio was okay (84/100), but (I think) he would choose a red for his next Scarbolo wine, which this producer is known for.
2005 Valter Scarbolo le Fredis Pinot Grigio

Jim Eastman of Music & Wine found the Pinot Grigio he tasted to be darker and richer than any he has had before. He also found it paired nicely with Toma, an Italian cow's milk cheese. He used one unusual wine descriptor: pomaceous.
2006 Sdricca di Manzano Pinot Grigio

Garry Clark tales of a sommelier couldn't find a something interesting, so settled on one that (I think) is poured at where he works. He didn't like it at all. He also thought people would be disappointed with it at approx. retail of £9.
2006 Angoris Pinot Grigio

Wine PR-guy Dan Fredman has posted at his A360P blog...
okay, he posted this in late December, but I'm cutting him some slack, as he did send me the funkiest Christmas Card this year. "...(W)hen made by Movia it's pretty damn good." He stole this at auction for $4 and says to drink up:
2002 Movia Pinot Grigio

The main Friuli-Venezia Giulia appellations are:
 • Collio
 • Carso
 • Colli Orientali del Friuli
 • Venezia Giulia IGT
 • Friuli Isonzo
 • Friuli Grave
Plus, the Slovenian 4/5ths of
the Collio:
 • Goriška Brda

Want to know what's in a Friuli blend (i.e., those not identified with a varietal)? Click here.

Wikipedia has a strong entry for this region, here. This section of Wikipedia is led by Amber Agne. She got this section up to speed in time for WBW.

The new World Atlas of Wine (Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson) has an awesome map of Friuli-Venezia Giulia/Goriška Brda on page 173. Worth buying the book for this map alone.

A Short List of Excellent Producers to Seek Out from this region:

 • Gravner
 • Miani
 • Jermann
 • Radikon
 • La Castellada
 • Movia
 • Vodopivec
 • Vie di Romans
 • Schiopetto
 • Villa Russiz
 • Zidarich
 • Edi Simcic
 • Damijan Podversic
 • Venica & Venica
 • La Viarte
 • Bressan
 • Girolamo Dorigo
 • Livio Felluga
 • Edi Kante
 • Lis Neris
 • i Clivi
 • Eugenio Collavini
 • Bastianich
 • Volpe Pasini
 • Doro Princic
 • Meroi
 • La Boatina
 • Edi Keber
 • Fantinel
 • Pierpaolo Pecorari
 • Livon
 • Le Vigne di Zamò
 • Marco Felluga
 • Ronco dei Tassi
 • Roberto Scubla
 • Borgo San Daniele
 • Adriano Gigante
 • Franco Toros
 • Branko
 • Borgo del Tiglio
 • Colle Duga
 • Dveri-Pax
 • Mauro Drius
 • Zuani
 • Dario Raccaro
 • Castello di Spessa
 • Oscar Sturm
 • Ronco del Gelso
 • Paolo Rodero

Although not part of this WBW, a list of Friuli producers without mentioning this one, would be wrong...
 • Moschioni (rossos)

Some observations from this WBW:

Observation #1: Friulano was the most often misspelled word. I've done it at least eight times, too.

Observation #2: Unless you lived in a big city, your choices were pretty poor. Many reported about two F-VG wines in the store they visited.

Observation#3: Too many chose a Tocai Friulano rather than something else. Those that went for a sauvignon or vitovska, for example, scored.

Observation #4: There were no flabby wines. Is that not refreshing?

Observation #5:
The wines seemed to pair just fine with whatever food people had; I can't recall a complaint.

Observation #6: I think some expected their Tocai Friulano to be better than it was, not realizing that it's rare for it be above "good".
(I think of it as a lunch wine grape, or something to have a glass with an appetizer, before you dive into a red.)

Observation #7: I was surprised that some hadn't had a wine from the Tocai Friulano grape before.

Observation #8: A lot of you got apricots and/or almonds on the nose.

Observation #9: The $10-$18 Tocai Friulanos and Pinot Grigios are generally okay, but there are better wines out there for the money...this is pretty clear from most of you. Only a few stumbled upon something in this category/range that you were enthusiastic about. Of course, the horrible exchange rate makes these wines cost more than they should.

Secret #1 :
The Italian Super Whites, as the Friuli white blends are called, are almost always superior to the TFs and PGs.

Secret #2: The best Tocai Friulano is actually made in the neighboring region of Veneto. It is the
Castello di Lispida Amphora. Well, according to me. Very hard to find, unfortunately.

Secret #3: There are some good
sparkling wines made in the region, such as those by Movia (made from pinot nero) and Eugenio Collavini (ribolla gialla).

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