On our first visit to Friuli-Venezia- Giulia, Michele and I had the good fortune to stay at the Livio Felluga winery. We stayed in beautiful guesthouse in the middle of the vineyard. Every morning, a woman would arrive to make breakfast. Michele mentioned that she liked fresh fruit and from then on there was fresh fruit. The members of the Felluga family could not have been nicer. They helped us to plan an itinerary and wherever we went to dine, one or another of the members of the family would show up to see if we were all right. They did not get many visitors from America in those days.
The highlight of the visit was meeting Livio Felluga who was 79 at the time. He invited us to take a tour of the vineyards in his car, which I believe was a Jeep. Michele sat in the front and I sat in the back. As I recall, he never went under 80 miles an hour as we travelled over hills and along dirt tracks. Whenever we hit a bump, I felt as if I was flying through the vineyards! All the time he was driving Livio talked about the vineyards and his wine. It was the most exciting vineyard tour I was ever on! Today Livio is close to 100 years old.
Over the years I have been a big fan of the wines of Livio Felluga and so, when I heard that his son Andrea Felluga was doing a tasting of their wines at Eataly, I just had to go.
Andrea began by speaking about the history of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and of his family. Andrea said that his father was born in 1914 when the area was part of the Austro- Hungarian Empire. He explained how the shifting borders after WWI and WWII caused many problems. His family lost everything after WWII but Livio was able to remain on the Italian side of the border and start his winery.
Pinot Grigio DOC 2010 100% Pinot Grigio. Very ripe grapes are hand picked and destemmed and left to macerate for a short period before being soft crushed. After settling the must ferments in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. 30% to 40% of the wine undergoes malolatic fermentation and it remains on the lees for 4 months. Andrea said the wines had aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, honey, and white peach with a nice mineral note on the finish. $25
Friulano DOC 2010 100% Friulano (formerly known as Tocai) This wine is made in the same way as the Pinot Grigio, though the Pinot Grigio grapes are picked about 10 days before the Friulano. This wine had a grassy note to it with flavors and aromas of apple and citrus, good acidity and a touch of almond in the finish.$28
Both of these wines have the now famous “Map Label.” Andrea said that when they first produced wine Friuli-Venezia-Giulia was not a region that was well know and his father put the map of the area on the bottle so every one would know where the wine came from.
Abbazia Di Rosazzo Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC 2009 Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon, Malvasia,Friulano and Ribolla Gialla the grapes for this wine come from the vineyards of the Abbazia Di Rosazzo. The grapes are destemmed and left to cold macerate before they are soft crushed. Then the must is cleared by allowing it to settle. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with yeasts selected in Friuli. After 3 days, the wine is racked into oak casks where alcoholic and malolatic fermentation is completed. The wine is then aged in 5hl oak casks. This is a big, complex wine with rich fruit aromas and flavors and a slightly bitter finish.
Terre Altre DOC Collis Orientali del Friuli DOCG 2009 Friulano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon. After destemming, the grapes are macerated for a short time. The grapes are soft crushed and then the must rests. The Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon are fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for about 10 months. The Friulano is fermented and aged in small French oak casks. After 10 months, the wines are blended and the bottled wine rests in binning cellars for about 9 months. I have been drinking this wine since the 1980’s. This is an elegant and complex wine. Andrea described it as “captivating”. I think it is a seductive wine. It is without a doubt one of the best white wines made in Italy. $65
Vertigo Venezia Gulia IGT 2009 made from 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are carefully destemmed and then crushed. Fermentation is carried out with maceration on the skins at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks. The juice is pumped over frequently for about four weeks, to extract color and aroma from the skins. The wine is aged for 12 months is stainless steel and small French oak barrels. Andrea said they were not new. After bottling the wine rests for at least 4 months before release. This is an intense, fruit forward wine with aromas and flavors of black cherry and spice. $60
Sossó Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC 2006 made from Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Merlot and Pignolo. The grapes are destemmed and crushed. Fermentation is carried out with maceration on the skins at controlled temperatures in stainless steel. The juice is pumped over frequently for about three weeks. The wines are blended and racked into barriques–1/3 new– where they mature for 18 months. After bottling, the wine rests for a minimum of 12 months before release. This was the most international in style of the wines that we tasted. It is a big complex wine with aromas and flavors of cherry and ripe plums and hints of vanilla and oak. $65