Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Collio and Isonzo DOCs, Friuili-Venezia Giulia

The DOC Collio (2 hectares) and DOC Isonzo (18 hectares) are sub-zones of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region I briefly describe them below.

DOC Collio

Colli Goriziano, simply called Collio (hillsides), is a crescent-shaped collar of land located in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region and bounded to the west and south by the Judrio and Isonzo Rivers and to the east by the Slovenian border.

The area has a mild temperate climate with cool winds from Central Europe and warm air currents from the Adriatic Sea combining to keep the grapes dry and healthy.  The Julian pre-Alps protect from the biting north winds while the Adriatic, in addition to its warm air currents, reflects solar radiation and, in so doing, aids grape ripening.  Diurnal temperature variation allows ripening in the daytime with acidity retention in the cool nighttime air.  Heavy rainfall (1000-1600 mm on average) provides a reservoir that plant roots can tap into even in the hottest of times.

The soil in the region is called "ponca" and its marl and sandstone strata are rich in calcium carbonate and alkalinity.

A total of 1500 hectares of vine are planted at elevations ranging between 100 and 430 meters and these produce 7,000,000 bottles of aromatic, crisp red and white wines.  Twelve white and five red varietals are permitted and they may be bottled as blends or single varietals.  The primary white grapes are international (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon, and Chardonnay included) but indigenous varietals (Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, and Malvasia) comprise 20% of the plantings.  Red wines are primarily made from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot.  Most of the wines are fermented and aged  in stainless steel and are made to be drunk young.

Collio is considered one of the most technologically advanced of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia zones in that it was the first to adopt cold fermentation of white wines, refrigerated fermentation tanks, and pneumatic wine presses.  The Consorzio Tutela Vini del Collio (110 members currently), founded in 1964, was among the first wine associations in the country.  The zone was granted DOC status in 1968.  The Collio Consorzio merged with the Carso Consorzio in 2010 and the surviving body is called Consorzio Tutela Vini Collio e Carso.

DOC Isonzo

Isonzo is a small DOC (classified in 1974) lying in the southeastern portion of Friulia-Venezia Giulia.

Source: vinidocisonzo.it

The climate is maritime with the DOC experiencing more rainfall than any of the other regional zones.  The Julian Alps serve as a natural barrier against north winds and there is a constant circulation of warm winds coming off the Adriatic and through the passage offered by the Isonzo River.

The soil on the left bank of the river is rich with clay and red gravel while the soil on the right bank is chalky and layered with white gravel.  The river bed is susceptible to periodic shifting and the resulting floods serve to re-invigorate the soil with minerals from upstream sources.

The requirements for wine production in Isonzo are set by a 110-member producer group called the Consortium for the Protection and Appreciation of Isonzo DOC Wines.  The following mandates apply to the regions' vineyards:
  • No more than eight varietals planted in a vineyard
  • 3500-4000 vines/hectare
  • 60-90 quintals/hectare production
  • Irrigation only when necessary
  • Grass planted in the vineyard
  • Organic integration of soil by utilizing mowing residue
  • Two periods of grape-thinning
The varietals found in DOC Isonzo are a subset of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia population.

Combining the foregoing factors yields unique, high-quality wines with exotic aromatic ripeness in DOC Isonzo.

Updated August 25, 2013.

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