Posts tagged ‘collio white wines’
Collio Vineyards of Livon looking towards Slovenia (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
During my recent visit to the Collio district of Friuli Venezia Giulia, I was able to taste several recently released white wines from the 2012 vintage. 2012 was a warm vintage, but unlike 2011, which was also quite hot, growers received a break with rain in late summer, which allowed longer ripening on the vine, giving the wines better acidity and structure. The 2011 Collio whites are very nice, but different, as they are very rich on the palate, while the 2012s are a bit more delicate, but have better balance overall and the potential to drink well for a few additional years.
Of course, Collio is a marvelous growing district, especially for white grapes, as there are temperate influences with both breezes from the nearby Adriatic Sea and well as winds from the Julian Alps, situated not too far away. Combine that with beautifully sited vineyards (Collio means “hill” in Italian) and you have a perfect home for distinctive white wines. The best examples here are what I like to call vibrant, as they excite your palate; how nice to find white wines that aren’t simple or on the other hand, burdensome. Be it monovarietal, such as Friulano, Sauvignon or Ribolla Gialla or several others or a wonderfully crafted blend of several varieties, the white wines from Collio are among the finest and most distinctive in the world.
Here are brief notes on some of my favorite 2012 Collio whites to date:
Villa Russiz Pinot Grigio – Yes, Pinot Grigio has become a commodity and unfortunately, there are too many insipid versions from Italy. But when it is made from grapes in a cool climate from hillside vineyards, the results are often wonderful. Villa Russiz has been producing one of Italy’s finest examples for some time now; this 2012 has a slight copper color (the color of the grape is actually a mix of copper, gray and gold) with fragrant aromas of Bosc pear, apple peel and magnolia. Medium-full, this is refreshing with very good acidity and a long finish. Simply put, it is delicious and beautifully made!
Villa Russiz Malvasia – Malvasia (or Malvasia Istriana, as it is sometimes known in Friuli) is a beautiful variety with amazing aromatics and striking acidity. I love it and I hope that more producers will work with this variety and export it to the United States and other countries, so more consumers can experience the exotic pleasures of this wine. The 2012 Malvasia from Villa Russiz is excellent with gorgeous perfumes of papaya and hyacinth (how’s that for unique fragrances?), lovely acidity and impressive persistence. This is one of the best examples of Malvasia I’ve had, as this has a bit more depth of fruit than many versions that are “pretty,” yet lack concentration. Perfectly balanced, this has marvelous texture and could work with any number of foods, from Thai and Oriental cuisine to roast chicken with lemon and tarragon. Enjoy this now or over the next 2-3 years. Another beautiful examples of the strength and wide array of Collio whites!
Livon “Solarco” – This is a lovely blend of Ribolla Gialla and Friulano that Livon has perfected. Offering beautiful aromas of green apple, spearmint and lilacs, this is medium-bodied with very good acidity and balance. Refreshing and quite complex, this is a lovely wine at lunch with lighter seafood or pastas.
Livon “Soluna” – This is a Malvasia from Livon that displays excellent varietal character, especially with its lovely floral aromatics, with notes of quince and Anjou pear along with a distinctive notes of cinnamon. Medium-full, this has very good acidity and persistence and is simply delicious! Enjoy this over the next 2-3 years with Oriental cuisine.
Muzic Malvasia – Muzic is a small, but notable producer in Collio; this Malvasia is an excellent example of the quality at this estate. Aromas of yellow peaches, lemon rind and acacia flowers, this is a lovely wine with lively acidity and ideal ripeness.
Humar Friulano – Friulano, formerly known as Tocai Friulano, is a signature grape of Collio. This is a version that offers lovely aromas of Anjou pear and lilacs with impressive weight on the palate, very good acidity and impressive persistence. This can accompany many white meats as well as risotto or many vegetable dishes.
Russiz Superiore Pinot Grigio - There’s no great mystery to this wine; it’s just a well made PInot Grigio with rich concentration, ideal acidity and notes of white spice in the finish that give this wine added complexity. What a lovely wine for just sitting down and enjoying with good friends at an outdoor enoteca or garden, much as I did with Marco Felluga, proprietor of this estate, who is an energetic 86 years young. Here’s to many more great wines, Marco!
Livio Felluga Sauvignon – The Livio Felluga estate (Livio is the older brother of Marco; he is 99 years of age) produces wines from both Collio and the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC zones. This 2012 Sauvignon is typical of the rich fruit and lively acidity one sees from this variety in Collio. Offering aromas of spearmint and white flowers along with just a hint of fresh hay, this is medium-full with lovely texture, good acidity and notable persistence. Beautifully balanced, this is a perfect partner with most shellfish; enjoy over the next 3-5 years.
Carlo Schiopetto (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
The hillsides of the Collio district (the word Collio means “hill”), are the home of some of the most vibrant white wines in the world. Here, varieties such as Friulano, Sauvignon (Blanc), Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Bianco and Ribolla Gialla are farmed to small yields, resulting in deeply concentrated wines that define the soul of this lovely territory in far northeastern Italy. There are certainly several producers from Collio that are among the finest in all of Italy; given their long track record of success as well as their contribution of local wine tradition, Schiopetto is a logical place to start when listing the great Collio wine estates.
When Mario Schiopetto established his Collio estate in 1965, white wines from this area – and from Italy in general – were rather simple products at best and at worse, dull, slightly oxidized offerings that faded away in just a few years. Schipoetto wanted to produce more complex, more vibrant whites, so traveled first to Germany and France to learn how vintners there made their white wines. Combining these practices, he utilized new technology in his cellars, being among the very first in Italy to use temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks to preserve varietal aromatics as well as freshness and color.
Mario passed away in 2003, leaving his three children – twin brothers Carlo and Giorgio and sister Maria Angela – to continue his work. They have carried on brilliantly, as the Schiopetto white wines (there are also two reds produced) are wines of superb complexity, richness on the palate, brilliant varietal purity and notable structure. These are wines that drink beautifully upon release, but improve with 3-7 years in the bottle, depending on the variety as well as the particular vintage.
I recently tasted four of the Schiopetto 2010 whites and found that each wine offered complexity and tremendous style. The Pinot Bianco has lovely quince and apple aromas along with distinct spice; there is very good acidity and persistence and I’d expect this wine to drink well for another 3-7 years. The Blanc de Rosis, a blend of Friulano, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon, Malvasia and Pinot Grigio has inviting Anjou pear and tea leaf aromas, excellent persistence and a light nuttiness in the finish. This is an expressive, complex wine that should peak in another 5-7 years.
My two favorites Schiopetto whites are the Sauvignon and the Friulano. Sauvignon from Friuli is at its most interesting when it is a vigorous, almost assertive wine and in that respect, the 2010 Schiopetto succeeds marvelously. Brilliant light yellow with aromas of spearmint and Anjou pear, this is medium-full on the palate with wonderful texture and bright fruit. This receives no oak maturation, but is given 8 months of lees aging before bottling. There is vibrant acidity and excellent persistence. This is an excellent Sauvignon which will drink beautifully for the next 5-7 years.
My favorite of the Schiopetto whites from 2010 (and often my favorite every year, as it is a toss up between this and the Sauvignon) is the Friulano. Friulano is somewhat of a chameleon grape in this region, as local terroir is a key characteristic of this variety; I have tasted examples that are more fruit-driven, while others tend to feature more of a minerality. This has beautiful aromas of golden apple, Anjou pear, quince and chamomile; there is excellent persistence and vibrant acidity along with outstanding complexity. This is an outstanding wine and among the two or three very best examples of Friulano produced each year, a statement I make without any doubt and one that confirms the brilliance of the wines of this great winemaking family in Collio.
The wines of Schiopetto are imported in the US by Vintus, Pleasantville, NY.