FRIULI WINES: Excellence and Affordability
Article and photos by Anna Cavaliere

A vacation in northern Italy gave us an opportunity to get reacquainted with some old favourites and to discover some newer products from the Friuli and its surrounding areas. Let us share these discoveries with you.

Devan Sancin is the proud owner of this small and family-run winery that is located in Dolina (Trieste). Planted with 60,000 vines, the grape varieties include, among others: Malvasia, Glera, Refosco and Merlot, all of which are harvested by hand. The brands include Rosso Monte d’Oro (Refosco and Merlot), Bianco Glera, Bianco Malvasia and the Glera Brut Spumante.

Total production is approximately 60,000 bottles of reds and whites, as well as 9,000 bottles of sparkling Brut White. Our visit coincided with the completion of their bottling process and we were able to taste some of their wines. We were blown away by a spectacular 2007 Merlot.

The farm also produces beautifully aromatic extra virgin olive oil that retails for 14-18 euros for 750 ml bottles.

Alas, the winery does not export to North America but if you are in the area, and wish to visit the farm, you should book in advance by e-mailing them at Their website at is still being developed.


Situated in the Rocca Bernarda zone, this 5th generation winery produces 800,000 bottles. Approximately 65% are distributed throughout Italy, with the remainder exported mainly to the U.S. and a growing market for its whites in Russia.

The distinctive ‘map’ labels make for easy identification of these wines. Selling for 20-60 euros in Italian wine bars, the wines can currently be found in Canada in the province of Alberta. However, you can expect some wines in Ontario’s LCBO outlets by the end of 2010.

2009 Sauvignon Colli Orientale
Bottled four months, the exquisite bouquet of this wine gives way to a fruity and clean palate.

2009 Friulano
Previously known as Tocai, the Friulano grape variety is indigenous to Friuli. The highly fragrant nose of almond, together with the softness on the palate, guarantees that this wine goes down smoothly and sensuously.

friuli2008 Terre Alte
A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Tocai, Pinot Bianco grapes grown on 60-70 year-old vines in the Tocai area, culminates in a production of 40-50,000 bottles. The Tocai is aged slightly in wood, while other varietals mature in steel tanks. Once blended, the wine then spends about 9 months in the bottle. Not produced yearly, the first vintage was in 1981 and is characteristically intense yet elegant in complexity, along with exotic fruit and herb aromas. This wine is truly magnificent!

2006 Sosso
A blend of 60% Refosco, 35% Merlot grapes from a zone older than 50 years and 5% Pignolo, the wine is named after a small stream on the property. Approximately 10-20,000 bottles are produced with the wine aged 16-20 months in wood and one year in bottle. Still young, it will age well.

For more information, visit


In 1881 Anton Jermann left Austria’s wine-growing region of Burgerland - and later the vines of Slovenia - to settle in Friuli Venezia Giulia. From the 1970’s Silvio Jermann, who studied at the renowned wine academies of Conegliano and Istituto di San Michele, continued the family tradition and made his own history with a new vinification method for white wines.

For its 110th anniversary in 1991, Silvio Jermann purchased vineyards in Ruttaris, in the heart of Collio, and then launched Capo Martino (previously called Piccolo Sogno). The wine is a blend of old-vine Friulan whites - oak-fermented and aged Ribolla Gialla, Tocai, Pinot Bianco, Malvasia, Picolet, etc. - in a variety of combinations.

The new cellar, devoted to the vinification of Capo Martino and Vignatruss brands, is surrounded by 20 Ha of vineyards. These vines, and those for Dreams and Vintage Tunina brands, are those that have brought recognition and success to this company.

With its property of 150 Ha, 130 of which are vineyards and 20 given over to seed and horticultural crops, the company enjoys a global reputation especially for its attention to detail when it comes to producing a great wine. Current production is approximately 800,000 bottles, with ambition to increase this in the near future to a cool million.

friuliEdi Clementin, the company’s knowledgeable and gifted winemaker, took us on a tour of this amazing facility and then introduced us to a variety of their products. What follows are but a few.

2009 Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia
This complex wine is well-rounded and offers a great bouquet. With a production of 100-120,000 bottles the wine is steel fermented and gives a surprisingly buttery flavour usually associated with oak aging. It is sold mainly in the U.S. at $40-$60.

2009 Vinnae Ribolla Gialla Venezia Giulia
A slight percentage of Riesling and Tocai added to the mix make this light and fresh wine both easy-drinking and friendly. The Stelvin screw cap preserves the quality of the wine while lending informality and convenience.

2009 Afix Riesling
Made with 100% Riesling Renano grapes from a single vineyard and partly vinified on the skins, the wine’s vivid straw-yellow colour offers an intense and persistent aromatogether with aromatic and fruity palate. Fresh and well-balanced, it will marry well with vegetable creams, baked fish in sauce. This wine is one to be added to your cellar.

Vintage Tunina 2008
Sauvignon, Malvasia, Piccolit, Chardonnay, Ribolla

Dreams 2008 Raccolta Duemilaotto
Made with 90% Chardonnay, and some Riesling, the majority of this wine’s production is distributed to markets in the U.S., Russia and Japan

friuli2008 Capo Martino in Rotars
Only 12,000 bottles have been produced of this product made from the area’s indigenous grape. This fresh and elegant wine spent eight months in the bottle, and you can expect to find it in the U.S. and Canada in January or February 2011.

2005 Rosso Pignacolusse Campi dei Frutti e Monache
Made with 100% Pignolo grapes, an almost extinct variety native to Friuli that makes for a tangy and assertive wine, the wine is fermented in wooden vats, manually punched-down and aged in small barrels of new oak for 18-24 months. It is sold three years after the harvest. The wine imparts a scent of ‘breath’ that is not as evident on the palate, and rich tannins that make this still-young product ideal for further aging of 8-10 years.

For more information on this renowned winery, visit their website at



With a family history of more than 500 years, both as grapegrowers and wine producers, and been in the Friuli area for numerous centuries, the heritage has fallen to today’s proprietor Piero Pittaro a leader in the wine industry not only in Friuli but also in Italy.

In the1960s, at a time when there was a big push in Friuli for viticulture, he bought and planted the vines on the gravel and sandy soils that were adaptable to vines. Along with his brothers he expanded the property, and today his section encompasses 90 Ha of vineyards. Approximately 400,000 bottles roll off the bottling line, of which 35% are exported mainly to Germany - 90% of which are whites made with Pinot Grigio

friuliAlso produced are 80,000 bottles of Spumante, made with Picolit and Tocai in the traditional methode champenoise. The company also sells grapes to others as well as bulk sales to the public, with most of the sales made through word of mouth. The glass, made in Germany, is not only aesthetically beautiful and reusable in the same bottle once it is opened, but more importantly it does not alter the content.

Situated in Codroipo, Udine this winemaking process is under the responsibility of enologist Stefano Trinco. Production is dedicated to whites (60-65%), mainly Pinot Gris and Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Friulano. However, reds are also made to meet the demand of the Friuli citizens who like to drink red wines with their meals.

Here are just a few of the wines that we tasted. We came away highly impressed with the quality, value and variety of their products. You will be also.

2009 Moussue Grave Chardonnay
This Bourgogne-style and well-balanced wine offers good structure, and a clean palate with buttery notes and persistent finish. At 5 euros it offers fantastic value.

2002 Pittaro Brut Spumante
Made in ‘methode champenoise’ with 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Bianco, this exemplary dry spumante boasts classic perlage and sells for 13 euros at the winery.

2009 Incroce Manzoni Clone 6013
Created with Riesling, Pinot,Grigio, this blend displays an extraordinary nose that is quite floral in the beginning, but after a year you can expect the bouquet to be more indicative of Riesling.

2007 Refosco, Ronco Vieri, Colli Orientali del Friuli
This delightful and well-rounded wine spent one year in wood and is drinkable now.

2003 Agresto - Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Refosco
After spending 24 months in barrique, the still-strong tannins mean that the wine can age for another 10 years at least. The wine is not made every year, and the 2003 vintage was exemplary, much as the 2009. Keep your eyes open for this first-class wine.

friuli2007 Ramandolo
This wine is made from 100% Verduzzo grapes, 50% of which undergo the appassimento process for 30 days. Light and entertaining, it displays golden hues and honey notes. It is a delightful wine even though Verduzzo is typically not known for great aromatic nose, and is not big on personality.

2007 Picolit
Made from 100% Picolit grapes utilizing the old method, the wine is aged on the vine and in stainless steel and purposely made in a lighter version. Honey sensations on the mouth, make this delicate wine something that should be experienced.

 2009 “Valzer in Rosa” Moscato Rosa
This ‘novelty’ wine is in high demand in the Orient and is a good entry wine into the world of red wines. Sweetness gives way to beautiful hues and rose notes. Expect to see it on the market in December 2010.


Pittaro Museum

Proprietor Piero Pittaro welcomes clients to visit the winery’s musem which, through artifacts and antiques, reflects his passion for and explains wine culture and wine.

When he inaugurated the building in 1985, it was avant garde for that time period and Piero completely upset the typical idea of what a winery ought to be. Group tours, along with tasting,.are possible with advance notice.

For complete information visit




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