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Friuli Grave is a wine-growing region with a designation of origin covering the Friuli-Venezia Giulia area, an area of approximately 7,500 hectares distributed on both sides of the Tagliamento river, in the provinces of Pordenone and Udine. The area is located in the upper right corner of Italy, between Austria, Slovenia, the Adriatic Sea and Veneto. Although the region is relatively small compared to the rest of Italy, it is among the best for the production of white wines. Approximately thirty different wine varieties grow in the region.
Friuli Grave is a large flat valley with soils that have a multitude of stones that are heated during the day and cooled excessively during the night, an event that helps to ripen the grapes and maintain a characteristically high acidity. Excessive temperatures, both cold and hot, are moderated by the Adriatic Sea. Today, Pinot Grigio and Prosecco are the undisputed kings of Friuli-Grave. The wines are light and tasty, with soft herbaceous notes.
The Friuli Grave area and its history
This area has a long wine-growing history in northeastern Italy. From the 1400s onwards there are references to the grapes used to make the wines for the important banquets. Later we find documents on ageing and viticulture, both in monasteries and in the first cellars.
In modern history, the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, disputed for centuries by France, Venice and Austria, and being the scene of hard battles during the First World War. After 1918, the territories were absorbed by Italy, where white wine was not as appreciated as in Austria. Little by little, and after almost half a century, the taste of the consumers was recognizing the quality of the whites and nowadays the preferences between varieties are minimal.
This landscape is marked with stony soils called "Magredi" that correspond to the nearest areas; it has rivers and alluvial deposits along the high Friuli plain, which is protected by the Alps. This great area is formed by alluvial material that the rivers Meduna, Cellina and Tagliamento dragged from the tops of the Alps. For thousands of years these rivers deposited enormous amounts of washed calcareous-dolomitic material along the course of the rivers. The pebbles and stones found on the surface of the soils highlight the differences between night and day temperatures, which favours the ripening of the grapes and the development of sugar and its aromatic components. The results are intense and elegant wines.
The elaboration of the wines
With 300,000 hectolitres of wine per year, Friuli Grave represents more than 50% of the region's wine production. The combination of soil, climate and location of the region between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea results in excellent wines. The most recognized red wines are:
- Cabernet Franc.* Cabernet Sauvignon.* Merlot.* Pinot Nero.* Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso.
On the other hand, the white wines that stand out are:
- Chardonnay.* Friulano.* Pinot Bianco.* Pinot Grigio.* Riesling.* Sauvignon.* Traminer Aromatico.* Verduzzo Friulano.
The Adriatic Sea and the Alps influence the climate according to the proximity of the vineyards. In the northern part of the wine-growing area of Friuli Grave, there is a colder and rainy climate, while the south, closer to the coast, has a warmer and drier climate. The nearby Adriatic Sea tempers the heat of the plains and the vineyards are also protected from the cold air currents coming from the north by the curve of the Alpine hills.
Friuli Grave has a particular affinity for white wines, which is characterized by its varietal intensity and aromatic complexity on the part of the particular terroir of this place. A wide range of grape varieties, both international and local, are covered in the DOC, but certainly the king is the Pinot Grigio and the Verduzzo Friulano. Recognised varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are also produced.
More relevant information
Thanks to the cult winemaker Pontoni of the Miani winery, Friuli recently made the 10 most coveted Italian red wines with the local variety Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, achieving harmonious and aromatic specimens when young, and intense and full-bodied when aged. A masterpiece that competes with fresh, fruity and elegant whites.
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