Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a region in the upper north-eastern corner of Italy characterized by coastal flatlands, mountains and plateaus. The region borders Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east respectively. The most significant mountains in this area are the Julian Alps, hence Giulia is included in the name. To the south lies the Gulf of Trieste (the Adriatic Sea), and the winelands of Veneto to the west.
The region’s wines are made using mostly non-traditional grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Bianco along with some Italian grapes such as Pinot Grigio and the region’s own Picolit. The resulting wine differ based on geography, essentially impacted by a more coastal climate in the south and an alpine climate in the north. Another indigenous grape used to create crisp, lively wines styles is Verduzzo, which is used widely around the region.
The most important influence on the area’s vineyards is their position between the mountains and thesea. The mountains in the north and east increase the altitude of the vineyards allowing the vines to bask in bright sunshine without overheating.The grapes develop full complexity and aromatic depth before their sugar levels peak. Closer to the coast, maritime conditions create more stable, reliable weather with less temperature variations, offering local the grape producers the luxury of choice in their terroir.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia’s reputation as a wine region depends primarily on a select group of quality-conscious, small production winemakers. Friuli’s trump card is its mosaic of local grape varieties, although these are now increasingly being expanded with production of other international grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and even the Bordeaux stalwarts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Sparkling wines from the area are generally made using the Charmat method and have started to emerge alongside the better known still wines of the region. Fruili also produces a large quantity of Prosecco.
The region is home to three DOCG titles, each for white wines. Complementing the three DOCGs are ten DOCs; Friuli-Grave is the most important in terms of quantities produced.