Friuli-Venezia Giulia is Italy’s most northeastern wine region. It shares borders with Austria, Slovenia and Venice and, according to lifeinitaly.com, is “by far the most easily accessible region from outside of Italy and has traditionally acted as a gateway for Germanic and Slavic invaders over the centuries.” Some of her wines originate from Slovenia, and others have historical significance due to their influence in ancient noble circles.
In my first article about Friuli-Venezia Giulia, I talked about the three regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto combined are called Tre Venezie, which means Three Venices. According to Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible, Tre Venezie is known for making “Italy’s most stylish, highest quality white wines, including some of the raciest sparkling wines,…[along with] a slew of fascinating reds.”
In this series on Italian wine regions, I’m highlighting a red and white varietal from each region. Let’s start with the red.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia Wines: Piccola Nera (and Terrano)
I don’t typically highlight wines that are used mostly in blending, but the “little black” Piccola Nera deserves a special mention, as it is such a rare grape. Today, less than 50 acres of this varietal are under cultivation. Most of it is found in the small DOC Carso, near the Slovenian border.
According to wine-searcher.com, Piccola Nera’s “most common application is in the red blends of Carso with Refosco (known locally as Terrano), to create deeply colored and highly acidic wines with dark fruit and spice flavors.” These wines are meant to be drunk within a year or two.
Terrano itself is an interesting wine as it is only grown on a specific, iron-rich soil in this area of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. This iron, it is said, not only gives Terrano its distinctive flavors, but also causes its early degradation. This explains why it must be drunk within a couple of years. The good news is that it is also supposed to cut fats and aid digestion.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia Wines: Picolit
Our white wine of choice from Friuli-Venezia Giulia is Picolit, noted for its balanced sugar and acids that make it especially suitable as a dessert wine, or apéritif. Sadly, this grape has a very low yield, and almost faced extinction. Due to certain planters’ commitment, however, it is still in production, resulting in expensive dessert wines characterized by stone fruit flavors (peach, apricot) and intense floral aromas.
If you have had the pleasure of trying Terrano-Piccola Nera or Picolit, please share your experience with us here. Grazie!