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Friuli-Venezia Giulia, The Top Estates

Something old, something new,  something red, white and sparkling

Modernity.................

Villa Russiz 35ha - 210,000 btls. Tom Cannavan,(of wine-pages.com) who has shared a meal  with Gianni Menotti, Villa Russiz's renowned winemaker was impressed by the amount of effort that went into keeping yields very low in the vineyard. This is allied to careful winemaking, including extended lees ageing - for the best part of a year in most cases.

The same care and attention goes into the wines from Grillo Lole where Anna Muzzolini with the help of oenologist Giuseppe Tosoratti and farm manager Ramon Persello produces only 40,000 bottles each year, yet manages to make five white (four of them from local grape varietals) and six red wines.  At a recent Decanter tasting of Friuli wines, we felt that this estate  presented the top 2010 Friulano and Sauvignon wines. David Byrne of The Wine Agency, the Grillo Lole estates UK importer credits the quality to vineyard practices, in particular the low yields. Stephen Spurrier too had considered the Grillo lole wines to be the among the best of the cuvees a beaming David revealed at the Decanter tasting.

The Schiopetto Winery 30ha - 200,000  btls.  Back in the 1970's Mario Schiopetti pionerred modern Friulian  winemaking, embracing high cost, hi-tech methods. Out went old wooden barrels, replaced by a temperature controled   cellar and stainless steel frementation tanks. Yields were reduced,reductive winemaking introduced and the dreaded oxidisation banished from his bottles for ever.

Livio Felluga Winery. 13.5 ha - 650,000 btls Founded in the 1950's by an ex prisoner of war, who  had spent three years detained in Scotland as a quest of the King of England.Returning to  a devastated post war Friuli region where farming was being abandoned, Livio  Felluga perceived that winemaking had a future. As early as the 1950s he was embracing modernity.  Livio Felluga is recognized as the man who re-established Friuli's winemaking heritage, when, after the Second World War the rural population had moved away abandoning the crops. Convinced that only high-quality viticulture could breathe new life into the Friulian countryside, He began to restore old vineyards and plant new ones,  while introducing innovative ideas and techniques

.............And Tradition

Zidarich 6 ha - 13,000 btls. Benjamin Zidarich has no time for fashionable vines. In the winery too, modern equipment and methods are ignored. Instead of a stainless steel tank, the more traditional large wooden barrel is used.

Josko Gravner 17.5 ha - 40,000 btls   There was a time in Friuli and elsewhere when big well worn wooden barrels were new on trhe scene and  cool, replacing earthenware amphorae. The house of Josko Gravner now uses gigantic reproductions of these ancient earthenware vessels to produce untypical oxidized and concentrated wines. The German wine and food writer Andre Domine rates them "among the greatest wines of Italy.