Friday, November 18, 2011

Colli Orientali del Friuli Sub-Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia

The agenda on the final day of the European Wine Bloggers 2011 post-conference trip to Friuli-Venezia Giulia called for: a visit to Bastianich Winery; a walking tour of Cividale del Friuli; and participation in a wine tasting and light lunch with members of the Schioppettino di Prepotto Producers Association.  All of the identified locations are contained within the Colli Orientali del Friuli, a region that competes vigorously with its southern neighbor Collio for the title of best zone in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region.  The characteristics of the Colli Orientali del Friuli sub-region are detailed in this post.

Colli Orientali del Friuli -- the name translates to "eastern hills of Friuli" -- is a predominantly north-to-south, 2300-hectare strip of land that is located in the province of Udine and is famed for its rich, mineral-driven wines.  The region encompasses 14 communes that are arrayed in a crescent shape to the east of the capital city and is bordered by Friuli Grave to the west and Collio to the south.

As is the case for Collio, the region's climate is moderated by the Julian Alps and the Adriatic Sea.  It experiences hot summers and long autumns and the occasional hailstorm.  It is cooler and damper in the north adjacent to the alpine foothills.

The soil is similar to the soil of Collio, its southern neighbor.

Soil at Bastianich Winery, Colli Orientale del Friuli

Vineyards in the sub-region sit at elevations which average 400m and are terraced.  The vineyards are located in the row of hills bordering the Plains of Udine and run from Buttrico in the south to Tarcento in the north.  The best vineyards can be found in the south of the DOC in close proximity to the northern vineyards of Collio.

The DOC is permitted to produce red, white, and rosé wines which can be dry, off-dry, or sweet.  Sixty-four percent of the zone's production is white wine and 50% of the red is Merlot.  In addition to the DOC wines, three Colli Orientale del Friuli sweet wines have attained DOCG status: Ramandolo (Verduzzo), Colli del Friuli Picolit (Picolit), and Colli del Friuli Picolit-Cialla (Picolit from the Cialla zone).  Varietal wines must contain a minimum of 85% of the stated  variety with the remainder, if any, permitted varieties of the same color.

Colli Orientali del Friuli is sub-divided into three zones: Ramandolo, Cialla, and Corno di Rosazzo.  Ramandolo, located in the northeastern portion of the sub-region, is probably the oldest wine area in Friuli.  It is located in the hill country overlooking the town of Nimis and its steep slopes average 400 meters above sea level.  It is the coolest, and most rain-soaked, of the three zones.  Ramandolo has a DOCG classification -- Verduzzo di Ramandolo -- for wine grown from a local clone of the Verduzzo grape.  Cialla lies in a small valley that runs northeast to southwest in the middle portion of the sub-region and produces dry (Cialla Bianco and Rosso), off-dry (Picolit and Verduzzo), and sweet.  The southern zone, Corno di Rosazzo, is located in hill country and features east-, southeast-, and southwest-facing slopes.

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