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Friuli Venezia Giulia Native Vines – First Part
Rosa D'Ancona – November 15, 2005



Introduction

 
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Friuli Venezia Giulia is among the most prominent Italian regions in the national and international world of wine thanks to the combination of a variety of factors. First of all, there is an excellent synergy among climate, vine and terroir, as well as an abundant use of a variety of of native varieties, some of which date back around 2000 years. In addition, the production quantity remains fairly low, but is more and more focused on high quality wines, thanks to the implementation of innovative techniques in the vineyards as well as in the cellars.

Though the region is traditionally known for the production of the best Italian whites, currently Friuli Venezia Giulia produces excellent red wines as well.

The Romans spread vine culture in the region and expanded the already existing, though scattered, vineyards. In fact, the first known inhabitant of this area, called Eneti, are believed to have imported vines from Greece in earlier times.

Among the most ancient existing reports about vine culture and the quality of the wines produced in the region there is the "Historia Naturalis" ("Natural History") by Plinius the Elder, who mentions the noble Vino Pucinum, considered a drink with healthful effects and much appreciated on the tables at the court of Emperor Augustus.

  Abruzzo

In addition to the quality of the local environment, especially in the southern part of the region, the development of vitiviniculture over the course of time was made possible by the passionate work of generations of local vintners who, little by little, remodeled the natural profile of the pre-Alpine slopes, creating terraced vineyards which still amaze modern enotourists to this day.

The vitivinicultural heritage consists of 20,000 hectares (over 49,421 acres) of vineyards, which produce around 1.2 million hectoliters (26.4 million gallons) of wine per year, of which 750,000 (almost 16.5 million gallons) are DOC wines. Overall, the Friuli Venezia Giulia region produces one DOCG, nine DOC and three IGT wines.

The DOC Collio and DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli wines are produced in the hilly, pre-Alpine part of the region. The first denomination includes the vineyards grown up in the hills which run east of the Judrio river all the way to the Slovenian border. The second denomination, which by the way includes the largest number of native vines used in the production of any Italian DOC wine, is comprised of the eastern hills of the Udine province. The northern part of the wine zone includes the municipalities of Tarcento, Nimis, Povoletto, Attimis, Faedis, Torreano, the eastern part of Cividale, San Pietro al Natisone and Prepotto. The southwestern part of the same wine zone includes the municipalities of Premariacco, Buttrio, Manzano, San Giovanni al Natisone and Corno di Rosazzo.

The flat wine zones, which are typically located along nearby rivers we find the DOC Isonzo e Grave del Friuli. The latter provides over 55% of the regional DOC wines, with an average production of 380,000 hectoliters (over 8,350,000 gallons) per year.

The DOC Isonzo, which include all or part of 21 municipalities in the province of Gorizia, is characterized by a particularly high quality production, thanks to the careful enhancement of the natural characteristics of the terroir. Specific research and studies have been made here, which resulted in the separating of the wine zone into two distinct areas, based on the type of soil and microclimate. Based on these characteristics, the research isolated the type of white and red grapes which best suited them, allowing for the production of particularly intense, velvety red wines, as well as harmonious whites with elegant aromas.

The southernmost part of the region is home to the Friuli Aquileia, Friuli Latisana and Lison-Pramaggiore DOC wine zones.

Despite the particularly harsh landscape, with its steep ranges and impervious environment which characterize the production area of the DOC Carso, the knowledgeable local vintners manage to produce wines with outstanding personality.

The regional native vine varieties are numerous and include Tocai, Verduzzo Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Schioppettino, Pignolo, Tazzelenghe, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Picolit. The protection and recovery of some varieties colled for hard work in this region. Following a long, patient research, some lesser known native vines such as Piculìt  Neri, Scjalìn, Forgiarìn, Cividìn, Cjanorie and Ucelùt have been recovered. In 1991, the agriculture ministry added the Forgiarìn, Piculìt-Neri, Scjalìn and Ucelùt varieties to the Catalogo Nazionale delle Viti (National Vine Catalogue).

With regards to native vines, it's worthwhile pointing out the case of the Tocai Friulano, which found itself at the center of a dispute with Hungary after that country became part of the European Union. In fact, based on an EU mandate, on July 3, 2006, the Vine Committee of the Italian Agriculture Ministry, agreed that, with the 2007 harvest the denomination Tocai will stop being used to identify this native wine. After that date, the wine produced with this variety will have to be named either Friulano or Italico, but a subsequent decision of the Latium tribunal blocked the use of the Friulano denomination, at least for now.

Among the international vines with resilient production in the region, there are Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco (White Pinot), Pinot Grigio, Pinot Nero, Sauvignon, Cabernet, Merlot, Traminer Aromatico, Riesling Renano and Malvasia Istriana.

DOC and DOCG wines made with the main native vines

NATIVE GRAPES DOC WINES
DOCG WINES
Picolit
  • Colli Orientali del Friuli
  • Collio

 

Pignolo
  • Colli Orientali del Friuli
Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso
  • Carso
  • Colli Orientali del Friuli
  • Friuli Annia
  • Friuli Aquileia
  • Friuli Grave
  • Friuli Isonzo
  • Friuli Latisana
  • Lison-Pramaggiore
Ribolla Gialla
  • Colli Orientali del Friuli
  • Collio

 

Schioppetino
  • Colli Orientali del Friuli
  • Friuli Isonzo
Tazzelenghe
  • Colli Orientali del Friuli

 

Terrano
  • Carso

 

Tocai
  • Colli Orientali del Friuli
  • Collio
  • Friuli Annia
  • Friuli Aquleia
  • Friuli Grave
  • Friuli Isonzo
  • Friuli Latisana
  • Lison-Pramaggiore
Verduzzo Friulano
  • Colli Orientali del Friuli
  • Friuli Annia
  • Friuli Aquileia
  • Friuli Grave
  • Friuli Isonzo
  • Friuli Latisana
  • Lison-Pramaggiore
  • Ramandolo
Vitovska
  • Carso

Friuli Venezia Giulia IGT Wines

IGT WINES

NATIVE GRAPES

Alto Livenza

  • Tocai
  • Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso

Delle Venezie

  • Piculìt Neri
  • Pignolo
  • Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso
  • Ribolla Gialla
  • Schippettino
  • Tazzelenghe
  • Tocai
  • Terrano
  • Ucelut
  • Vitovska

Venezia Giulia

  • Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso
  • Ribolla Gialla
  • Schioppettino
  • Sciaglin
  • Terrano
  • Tocai
  • Ucelut
  • Verduzzo Friulano
  • Vitovska


 
 
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