Wines of Friuli - Heirloom wines
Heirloom wines, also known as autochthons, are made from indigenous vines. Italian producers have realized that planting the Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignons they face ever-increasing competition from large multinational producers who employ methods and processes that result in cheaper wines. This has led the Italian producers to return what they know best, traditional or heirloom wines where their end product is without rivals.
Tuscan wines are great, they are famous, and they are numerous, but my favorite Italian wine region is Friuli. Other regions will have 2 or 3 wines that I like and I will look for them in and keep them in my cellar. I have just the opposite emotion with the wines of Fruili, there are only 2 or 3 Friuli wines that I do not like. When given a choice most often I will choose a Friuli wine and if I do not know the wines on the list I will always go for the region I like best, which again means Friuli.
The wines of Friuli, generally very high quality, can be very different from one another. The area in which the grapes are grown will have different minerals in the ground, the amount of sun the grapes receive will be different and the vineyards may receive different amounts of rain at different times in the season. These factors are very important and come into play more in Friuli than other traditional Italian wine regions. With the Alps just a hop, skip and a jump away climate can play tricks on the growers. Their expertise and generations of experience are what makes Friuli wines so special.
All the areas of Friuli are great wine producers, but grapes grown in Collio are predominately the best across all varieties. It should also be noted that while Friuli does have some very big international growers that sometimes choose quantity over quality generally Friuli specializes in heirloom wines made by medium, small and micro growers.
As Alder at Vinography said, “the large quantity wines that are made with more industrial methods cannot be compared with wines made with natural yeasts and artisan methods. It would be stupid to even try to compare them.” Alder intended with this statement to say that these are different wines, not better or worse simply better and should not be compared. I agree, it would be similar to comparing Raffaella’s homemade ravioli or my fresh pasta with ragu’ and Chef Boyardee. Surely there are some people who would support that Chef Boyardee is better. Mmmm, mmmm, good!
Personally, I see the introduction of industrial production methods in wine similar to what has happened in the food industry. To reduce cost they added many things that have little to do with good food. Certain additives, banned in Europe because of health hazards, are widely used in boxed, frozen, prepared foods here in the US. They are tasty but result in heart disease, obesity, liver failure, and cancer.
The most interesting thing about these great wines is that quality does not mean costly. Traditional methods of production will not allow for a 7$ bottle of wine, but it will allow for the same quantity served in a flask at your table during dinner for 7$. I suggest you look for these wines, they are some of the best in the world and you can find them at a very reasonable price.
Refosco dal peduncolo rosso
The DOC and DOCG Regions
Colli Orientali del Friuli
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