, From Italy with Wine: FVG - Collio Wine area

FVG - Collio Wine area

After our introduction of  Italian wine zones, subdivision and denominations we decided to make a deeply description for each zone considering and indicating the most important places, giving also the references for the most important and principle wine sellers.
So we start with the "Collio" zone, in The Friuli Venezia Giulia region, in the North-East of Italy.

The Collio is situated at the extreme eastern edge of the region, in the province of Gorizia on the border with Slovenia. Collio is an area of production of fine wines to which, among the first in Italy, has been recognized since 1968 the Appellation d'Origine Subsidiary. A premium-quality wine area, the Collio was one of the first in Italy to be recognised, as a Denominazione d’Origine Controllata and Garantita, or DOC DOCG zones.

The D.O.C. Collio area, known for its excellent production of D.O.C. wines, covers about 1600 hectares of specialized hill vines which extend along the northern hill area of the province of Gorizia next to the border with Slovenia. The vines which are cultivated today on the Collio are mostly of French origin, imported from 1850 onwards.

The proximity to the Giulie PreAlps leads to shelter from the northern winds and the propinquity to the Adriatic coast promotes the persistence of a moderate and mild micro climate.

From the hills of San Floriano and Oslavia above those of Gorizia Ruttars, Lonzano and Vencò on the banks of Idrija, which once marked the border between Italy and Austria, is a succession of rolling hills punctuated by small villages, and vineyards, which stretch for about 1,600 hectares.

The Collio soils are made up of marls and sandstones from a eocene origin, brought to the surface in ancient times by the lifting of the Adriatic seabed. These rock formations easily break up under the action of atmospheric agents, creating a soil which, over the seasons, turns into an ideal substratum for viticulture. Alongside the soil, there is another excellent ally which is the climate. Ventilation is constant and abundant rain is well distributed over the year, creating a water supply in the superficial layers of the land which guarantees the ideal water supply even in the hottest periods. Moreover, the hill conformation of the area leads to discrete temperature changes between day and night.

These conditions promote the accumulation of sugars, pigments and aromatic substances in the grapes which characterize and make the Collio wines very typical. You can find soft and elegant notes in the reds, with warm, round sensations. In the whites, the freshness of the “in bianco” winemaking predominates, a method without contact with the skins, which characterizes their dry and harmonious flavour.

This hilly area-perfect for relaxing holidays in the green, thanks to its excellent infrastructure-rural tourism is developed almost continuously along an ideal east-west, showing large areas exposed to the south, very suitable for viticulture highly qualified. 

This situation has favored since ancient times the cultivation of the vine, already introduced in the area in pre-Roman times.

Of great white wines, the Collio prevail the production of Pinot, Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon and the renowned Collio Bianco, a blend DOC. Among the reds are Collio Rosso, Cabernet, and Merlot. And these will be described in the dedicated pages, linked below.

Places of interest / Itineraries
Strada del Vino e delle Ciliegie (Wine and Cherries road)

With this itinerary we have the possibility to introduce you the principle villages/cities of Collio and we can give you a brief description of these.  

It starts from the Isonzo Park, just outside Gorizia, and continues north through the nearby Parco Piuma, a hilly section of the old park, to Oslavia, where the vineyards do not hide the signs of First World War fights, whose victims are resting In the nearby Ossuary.

Continuing along the main road you enter the hills cultivated with vines and cherries until you reach the village of San Floriano del Collio, dominated by the castle complex of the Conti Formentini.
In this zone there are a lot of little wine sellers/cellars, that are cheaper but a very good quality. Some of these are (click on the name to see dedicated link) and below we have included one of its important bottles you can find in the market (via ebay):

- Conti Formentini, here below some offers:

- Humar, here below some offers:

- Other wine cellars are: Alessio Komjanc, Draga - Miklus, Graunar, Ivan Vogric, Muzic

view of San Floriano del Collio

After San Floriano here you go along the state border towards Ruttars, in Dolegna del Collio, crossing the Plessiva Forest, a nature reserve. Ruttars dominate the vineyards and the vineyards, whose sites surround the Castle of Trussio and the Marquard Tower.
One of the best wine cellar of Ruttars and in general of the Collio zone is: Livon

Trussio Castle
Along the way we meet the Ca 'Ronesca Farm, where you can taste the Doc Chardonnay Collio, Pinot Grigio Collio and Sauvignon Collio.

Always following the border with Slovenia you will arrive in the center of Dolegna del Collio, a country known for producing wines for traditional game-based cooking.
Note: The symbol of this beautiful little town divided into several fractions, are 5 star (each of which corresponds precisely at a fraction) and a pen, in honor of Father Zorutti, who was born here in 1792 and is still considered one of the greatest writers of Friuli. To visit in the area are some simple but interesting votive churches: the Church of San Leonardo (XV) to Scriò, the Church of S. Elena (sixteenth century) at Mernico, the Church of St. James (XVI) to Lonzano. Dolegna - that adheres to the National Association of Wine Cities - is surrounded by vineyards and is one of the Collio better equipped for the farm, also attracts visitors with its excellent restaurants

Important wine cellar is Venica @ Venica

Turning back to Craoretto and then Brazzano, with the suggestive Church of San Giorgio rises on the highest hill in the area. Continuing to get down the road you arrive at Cormòns, the putative capital of the area of ​​the Collio Gorizia and an important center of the wine-growing industry.
Wine cellar of Brazzano: Livio Felluga

Continuing to reach Gorizia, you arrive at Capriva del Fiuli, a town surrounded by vineyards where you can admire the Castello di Spessa and Villa Russiz.

Castello di Spessa

Here stands the Fondazione Villa Russiz and the Castello di Spessa, a historic wine cellars that produces Collio Friulano, Collio Chardonnay, Collio Malvasia, Collio Pinot Bianco, Collio Pinot Grigio, Collio Ribolla Yellow, Collio Merlot and Collio Sauvignon Doc.

Villa Russiz

The road bends east to cross Mossa, a very ancient settlement where you can admire some of the votive churches dating from the thirteenth century.
The most important wine cellar is Jermann

Jermann wine cellar

A stop at Lucinico, just before entering the urban area of ​​Gorizia and heading to the Isonzo Park, from where it left, will give you the chance to taste the typical wines and sausages of the area.

All introduced wine cellars are included in the Gambero Rosso guide 

Vines and Wines oh this zone
In this following chapter we will describe you the most important characteristics about the principle vines and wines of Collio.
Collio is very famous for white wine. The vine/wine types are the following:

Red wines

Cabernet Franc:
Vine characteristic: Mid ripening, rather vigorous,suited to clay-limestone soils but also performs well on sandy soils if there is no water stress. Small berries. Very similar to cabernet sauvignon but with less dramatically indented leaves. Buds and matures earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and thus more prone to coulure but easier to ripen fully. Very Hard wood and small berries.

Wine characteristic: Wine made from Cabernet Franc is generally paler, lighter, crisper, softer and more obviously aromatic than its progeny Cabernet Sauvignon. Its aroma spans a fine line between refreshingly leafy and aggressively herbaceous, depending on ripeness level. Getting the yield right can be crucial; lack of ripeness can result in high levels of 'green'-smelling methoxypyrazines. (cit. Wine Grapes 2012)

Cabernet Sauvignon
Vine characteristic: Vigorous, late budding, mid to late ripening. &Thrives on well-drained gravel soils, preferably acid and well exposed. Very susceptible to fungal diseases that affect the wood such as eutypa dieback and esca and also to powdery mildew. Occasionally susceptibile to drying out of the stems. Bunches and berries are small, the skins thick and distinctively blueish. Its hard wood makes it suitable for mechanical harvesting and generally safe from the risk of winter freeze.

Wine characteristic: Wine has a particurlarly powerful identity. Thanks to the small, thick-skinned grapes, the wines tend to be deep in colour, high in tannin and relativity high in acidity. There is a recognizable nobility and stability to its aroma which can vary from blackcurrant to cedar, although such is its affinity with oak that in young wines it can be difficult to dissociate the fruit dfrom the wood.

Vine characteristic: Early budding, mid ripening. Moderately, sometimes very, vigorous with a tendency to produce many shoots and suckers. Fertile and best if short  pruned. Prone to coulure in some climates. Well suited to clay-limestone soils. At risk of winter and spring frost and drought. Very susceptible to downy mildew and leafhoppers. More susceptible to botrytis bunch rot than the Cabernets, with wich iti si so frequently grown.

Wine characteristic: Because it is easier to ripen, Merlot is grown even more widely than cabernet sauvignon, and swetness and freshness of its wine make it particurarly easy to appreciate. Like its relatives Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet franc, it can exhibilt a certain herbaceousness if not fully ripe, though this is much less common with Merlot than with either Cabernet. In general, a very considerable proportion of all the Merlot grown worldwide is blended with either or both Cabernet to provide fruit and flesh to counterbalance their more tannic structure.
Wine made from Merlot generally has more obvious fruit and less aggressive tannins so that it can be drunk younger than a Cabernet

Pinot Noir
Vine characteristic: Early budding, therefore susceptible to spring frosts and coulure, and early ripening. Likes temperature climates and does well on calcareous-clay soils. In hot climates, it ripens too quickly and the relatively thin-skinned barries tend to shrivel and are subject to sunburn. Best when fertility and yields are restricted, especially for the higher-yielding, larger -berried clones. tends to produce a lots of small bunches. Delicate and supscetible to downy and powdery mildews, botrytis bunch rot and virus diseases, notably fanleaf and leafroll, and at risk from leafhoppers.

Wine characteristic: In contrast to Cabernet's trademark tannins, most Pinot Noir is relatively soft, fruity and easy to like. Grat grand cru red burgundy can be tough in its youth and need a decade or two for its ineffable complexities to unfurl but, in general, charm is one of the Pinot Noir's grat assets.

In youth it can taste of cherries, raspberries and a wide range of other fruits.

Vine characteristic: Had almost disappeared in the early twentieth century after Fruili was hit by phylloxera. It was reswcued in the 1970s from a vineyard in the abbey of Rosazzo, where a entire row of old and ungrafted Pignolo vines had miraculously survived.

Wine characteristic: Varietal Wines have fresh acidity and firm but silky tannins, with fruit flavours that range from small red berries to ripe plums, developing notes of liquorice over time. They are well suited to oak ageing.

White wines:

Vine characteristic: Early budding and ripening, productive. Easy to grow. Best suited to soils dominated by limestone or calcareous clay that are not to dry. Susceptible to powdery mildew and grapewine yellows. It may also suffer from coulute and millerandage. Relatively thin skins make it susceptible to botrytis bunch rot in rainy harvest.

Wine characteristic: Chardonnay, loved or reviled, is arguably the most versatile white wine grape. Without a domint flavour of its own, it can take on a wide array of aromas depending on where it is grown and, paticularly, how it is made. Although the grapes generally reach relatively high sugar levels, the wines can taste lean, even tart, almost like a sauvignon blanc in its refreshing effect, in cool climate.

Vine characteristic: Vigorous but low yielding because Picolit flowers often produce sterile pollen, making cultivation difficult and producing loose bunches with very few berries. It needs to be planted together with other varieties such as Verduzzo Friulano to improve berry set. Although it ripens at the end of September or the beginning of October, it is usually hervested much later.

Wine characteristic: Many wines are less impressive than one might expect considering the prices they achive but recommended produces include Ronchi di Cialla, Dorigo, Livio Felluga, Moschioni and Livon. The best are delicately sweet with floral aromas and the flavour of apricos and peaches, sometimes a little honeyed. Wines aged for more than two years may be labelled Riserva.

Pinot Bianco
Vine characteristic:  Early budding and early ripening. Fairly vigorous and more regularly productive than Pinot Gris or Pinot Noir. Likes deep, warm soils. Good cold resistance but rather delicate in relation to fungal diseases. Small berries.

Wine characteristic: Admires of freshness in wine can find some Pinot Gris overbearing whereas, in the right place and hands, Pinot Blanc can offer a lip-smacking halfway house between refreshment and opulence. The wines are moderately structured and have moderate acidity and may be used for sparkling wine.

Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris)
Vine characteristic: Berry colour is very variable and much darker than that of most white wine grapes, from pinky purple to almost as dard as Pinot noir in hotter sites. Early budding and ripening. Relatively vigorous but not very productive. Some susceptibility to botrytis bunch rot and dowly mildew. Bunches and berries are small or very small. Potential for high sugar levels in the berries with moderate acidity

Wine characteristic: When Pinot Gris' yields sre not too high and it is allowed to reach full ripeness it can produce deep-colored, fairly rich wines with relatively low acidity - occasionally running to flab - and a heady perfume.

Ribolla Gialla
Vine characteristic: Mid ripening. Susceptible to millerandage and rot. Low fertility

Wine characteristic: Traditionally, varietal wines have been light-bodied and high in acidity, sometimes slightly floral. More recently, ambitious and innovative producers have been making more concentrated and characterful versions with a deep yellow colour and rich yellow fruit, sometimes nutty and mineral, flavours, although experiments with barrel fermentation and/or ageing have not been universally successful.

Vine characteristic: Very cold-hardy, thanks to the hardness of its wood, though it needs to be planted in the best sites to ripen fully and yield economically. It buds late and therefore tends to avoid spring frost. Mid to late ripening, depending on the style of wine being produced. Resistant to downy mildew and only slightly susceptible to powdery mildew and botrytis bunch rot.

Wine characteristic: This is not a variety that shows much of its mettle in inexpensive versions but a hand-crafted Riesling is generally relatively low in alchol but high in both acidity and often extract. There is rarely any shortage of flavour and aroma in a Riesling - in fact the bouquet in mature examples can be so strong as to deter some wine drinkers. Because Riesling is so good at expressing the terroir where it is grown, it is difficult to generalize about its aromas and general character. They can be floral, fruity, mineral and/or spicy. One generalization can be made: Riesling makes some of the longest-lived wines in the world.

Vine characteristic: Early to mid ripening. Very vigorous and needs to be planted in low-vigiour rootstocks in soils that are not too fertile, otherwise the canopy can be almost iuncontrollable. Small, compact bunches of small berries are highly susceptible to botrytis bunch rot.

Wine characteristic: Sauvignon the wine is tipically high in acidity with a lot of aromas generally associated with things green - grass, leaves, nettles and gooseberries. 'Cat's pee on a gooseberry bush' became a popular description of aroma of some early-picked Sauvignon.

Tocai Friulano
Vine characteristic: Fertile, vigorous and productive. Early budding and early to mid ripening. Susceptible to botrytis bunch rot, sour rot, esca, downy and powdery mildews.

Wine characteristic: Wines often have both herbal and almond flavours, sometimes more on the grassy side, and are neither as crisp nor as aromatic as sauvignon blanc but many well be fuller-bodied.

Traminer Aromatico. as Savagnin
Vine characteristic: similar to  Sauvignon Blanc
Wine characteristic: the wine is tipically high in acidity with a lot of aromas generally associated with things green - grass, leaves, nettles and gooseberries

How to arrive in Collio zone:
Ronchi dei Legionari (Go) - Trieste
Aeroporto Regionale di Trieste, 20 Km from Gorizia

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