Weekend with Friuli wine, on the borders of Italian viticulture
It is one of the most easterly regions of the peninsula where, between the hills that cross the border sliding down to Slovenia and scattered towns, there are about 1,500 hectares of vineyards: the Collio is a very prestigious winemaking area. Since time immemorial, the south-facing rows follow on from the hills of San Floriano and Oslavia, above Gorizia, to those of Cormòns, Ruttars and Lonzano, producing mainly white grapes of absolute quality. Collio, “Brda” in Slovenian, is to all intents and purposes a border territory where Italian, Slovenian and Austrian traditions melt in ethnic groups, customs, recipes and wines with extraordinary richness. Viticulture is assisted by a climate mitigated by sea breezes from the Adriatic and the Isonzo river that delimits the area to the south and by the Julian Alps which form a barrier from the colder winds. The “ponca” soil is made up of stratified marl and sandstone of oceanic origin that crumbles in your hands to reveal small marine fossils and gives the wines character and strength. Here the native varieties that have survived extinction, such as Ribolla Gialla, Pignolo, Tazzelenghe and Picolit, live together with the international ones Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Cabernet and Merlot, teaching man the rules of the melting pot.
Walking along the border with Slovenia. Ribolla gialla – yellow or orange?
All of the varieties in this region are reflected in the numerous wineries that are guided by a respect for the region and an attention to the quality of almost unrivalled products. Playing at walking on the border between Italy and Slovenia (here the telephone doesn’t pick up the national phone companies) you can climb the hills of Oslavia, a small village a few kilometres from Gorizia: here you find the timeless kingdom of Josko Gravner. It’s not easy to meet Gravner. Josko is a reserved and wise man and a friend of the earth. The vigneron follows the phases of the moon and makes his Ribolla Gialla in Georgian amphorae buried in his cellar, where, in the silence of the meditation of wine, an empty chair shows the importance of waiting, to respect nature, the seasons and the transformations. Thanks to long maceration on the skins, the wine takes on warm orangey nuances. In recent years, these wines defined by critics as “orange wines”, have become a trend (if they can be defined as such) that Gravner pioneered, despite the fact that he continues to maintain an identity that cannot be described in a single colour, whatever it is.
Also Radikon looks for balance and harmony in his wines while respecting the environment. Ribolla Gialla ferments spontaneously and maceration takes place in oak barrels for 2-4 months, it ages in 25-35-hecotlitre barrels for 4 years and matures in the bottle for a further 2 years. Also the other wines are worth tasting, such as Jakot (try reading it backwards and you’ll find out what variety it is!), the Pinot Grigio, the Oslavje (40% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon, 30% Pinot Grigio) and the Merlot among the reds. Since 1988, also Damijan Podservic has been trying to recover an ancestral winemaking world by cultivating vineyards abandoned by the old vignerons. The warm colours, the complexity of the aromas and the elegant taste of Damijan’s wines makes you fall in love: make the most of your trip to visit the winery and taste the wines.
Weekend with Friuli wine among wineries rich in history
It you are lost in the roads of Collio, no worries: Livio Felluga can help you out. The map of the hills has been printed on the labels of Felluga’s wines for over fifty years. This is how the head of the company who made Friulian wines known all over the world created the “geography” of his wines. Starting at Brazzano di Cormòns, the winery has grown to 150 hectares of owned land. Terre Bianche is one of the most prestigious Italian white wines, a blend of Friulian grapes, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon, grown in the historic vineyards at Rosazzo. You can book a tour of the winery, taste the wines and stop off at the guest house.
Braide Alte di Livon, a firmly-structured and caressing white wine from a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Picolit and Moscato, is one of the emblems of the winery that has recently celebrated fifty years of a love story with this border territory. As well as tastings and guided tours you can stay the night at the Locanda Villa Chiòpris, which has been returned to its old splendour by the Livon family.
The Mario Schiopetto winery, on the other hand, is in Capriva del Friuli and since 1965 it has been producing Tocai, now called Friulano, excellent with a few slices of Cormòns ham. It was Mario Schiopetto who made the first 100% Tocai, becoming the pioneer of modern-style Friulian whites and creating a style that has been passed down to today; check it out for yourselves with a guided tour and tasting in the winery.
Small wineries with great wines
Borgo del Tiglio is near Brazzano di Cormòns. Since 1981, Nicola Manferrari has been producing wines that highlight the characteristics of every single one of his vineyard plots in this special terroir, a total of 10 hectares divided between three estates. Here the Collio expresses itself in every one of its nuances through fine, complex and balanced wines. Also in the municipality of Cormòns, you can head towards the Ferlat winery for a guided tour and tasting of its wines. 5 hectares of vineyards under organic management: Friulano, Malvasia Istriana, Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Merlot and Cabernet Franc all made as monovarietal wines and all extremely identifiable. Let yourselves be guided by the young winemaker Moreno Ferlat and taste a real little gem: Sessanta, 100% Cabernet Franc from a historic vineyard planted in 1960, hence the name “Sessanta” (Sixty).
Where to eat
Trattoria al Cacciatore – La Subida: this is the perfect place if you want to completely lower yourself into the world of Collio in the Cormòns countryside. Traditional, but revisited, dishes with a unique taste, an excellent wine cellar and a warm and cosy atmosphere.
Osteria Korsic: in San Floriano del Collio, immersed in the green hills overlooking Slovenia, local dishes with zero food miles and guaranteed satisfaction of the senses.
Ristorante Blanch (0481-80020): in the Mossa hills, an informal atmosphere and good home cooking, excellent value for money.
L’Argine a Vencò: the first Michelin-star restaurant in Collio, where you can sit and abandon yourself to the pleasures of the kitchen and enjoy the view of the surrounding environment, which you can admire throughout the year thanks to the large glass walls.
Where to stay
La Subida: relax among the vineyards of the Gorizia Collio area.
Villa Chiòpris: an old stately home transformed into an elegant B&B.
L’argine a Vencò: B&B in Dolegna del Collio.
See also ...
Alto Adige meets Alsace at the home of Gewürztraminer
Gewürztraminer in Alto Adige and Alsace: a focus on the differences in terroir, Read more