Tradition and innovation in Friuli-Venezia Giulia

The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, of which Friuli constitutes the main part (90%), forms the north-eastern extremity of Italy. The region is divided into two areas bordering Slovenia, Collio – with Gorizia as the “capital” – and Carso – near Trieste – two geographically and historically distinct entities. Under its historical conditions, this eastern part of Friuli has a predominantly Slavic culture and identity.

The Collio, with its steep hills that have the benefit of both being subject to sufficient amounts of rainfall and well-ventilated (thanks the 'bora', a cold and dry North-East wind from the Alps), is characterized by its soils of ponka, a stratified rock made up of marl and sandstone, rich in minerals. This is the preferred terroir of the local white grape varieties Ribolla Gialla and Friulano (formerly called “Tocai” Friulano) or even Malvasia d'Istria and Pinot gris. It is there that, following a tradition of macerated white wine (a practice that facilitates the separation of the juice from the skins) and inspired by the traditional skin-contact wines of Georgia, a very innovative style has developed (from the 1990s) of white wines vinified as macerated (or orange) wines, led by figures such as Joško Gravner, Stanko Radikon, Dario Prinčič, Evangelos Paraschos or Franco Terpin.

The Carso, more modest in size, is a harsher, poorer terroir located on the limestone of the Karst plateau near the Adriatic Sea, with a thin layer of reddish clay soil (iron oxide), and subjected to heat with large variations in temperature and strong wines from the bora. Difficult conditions where the rare local white grape variety Vitovska proves to be the most remarkably adapted to the terroir, alongside Malvasia or Teran for the reds, both from neighboring Istria. The development of Carso wines owes everything to leading winegrowers such as Paolo Vodopivec and Benjamin Zidarich, who in the 1990s became followers of vinification with maceration on the skins, which brought a singularly new image to an otherwise unknown viticultural region.

For the Collio as for the Carso, the demand for natural viticulture and the experimentation with skin-contact wines constituted something of a revolution, and above all a revelation. Both a revelation of the expressive potential of native grape varieties hitherto 'forgotten' and a revelation of the distinctive character of the terroirs, resulting in incomparable wines.

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