Friuli Venezia Giulia is perhaps Italy’s most exciting white wine region. Its gently rolling hills and complex geology provide the perfect conditions for fresh, mineral driven wines. They key varieties are are the enticing Ribolla Gialla, the seductively smoky Tocai Friulano, and Malvasia Istriana. Sweet wines made from Verduzzo and Picolit are amongst the best Italy has to offer and compete with any passito style wine from elsewhere.
Red wines are also pretty interesting here. The region’s wealth of local varieties is a key feature. The most important are from the Refosco group, Pignolo and, as the name suggests, the razor sharp Tazzelenghe. There are even a handful of producers making special wines with completely obscure grapes such as Fumat and Curvin.
The most comprehensive appellation for demonstrating the region’s white grape diversity is Collio DOC, or Collio Goriziano as it’s sometimes referred to. Here, on the hillsides the border Slovenia, the production zone allows for 16 different mono-varietal wines to made, the only stipulation being that they must count for at least 85% of the blend.
In Carso, another small delimited area close to the Slovenian border a few more red varieties are permitted. There are plantings of Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Terrano. Cabernet France and Cabernet Sauvignon play a big role in the region, as well as Merlot and Pinot Nero.