Bon Gusto! Friuli

With a big reputation for fresh, fragrant, fruit-filled white wines and light, luscious reds, the pocket-sized wine region Friuili-Venezia Giulia in northeast Italy, is surely one of Italy’s hidden jewels.

Bordering Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, between the Adriatic Sea and the Giulie Alps, the sloped vineyards are protected from frosty winter winds and thrive on the warm southern breeze. Plenty of spring rain and a relatively dry summer produce robust roots and vines, which grow in rich limestone-clay soil. This unique mix is recipe for slowly ripen grape and an evenly-paced harvest, which produces wickedly wonderful wines.

Drink plenty and drink em’ young is the Friulian way. Traditionally crafted, wines are best drunk within two to five years of the harvest. Nearly 60% of the lip-smacking juice produced comes from white varietals such as Tocai, Ribolla Gialla, Sauvignon blancs, Malvasia, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco grape. Among reds, Pignolo has achieved cult status – rivaling the fav-raves of Tuscany and Piedmont. Other reds include Refosco, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Nero.

Friulian wine and grub has captured the attention of top restaurateurs worldwide who share their Amore’, offering rustic Friulian cuisine and matching wine. As Friuli is amongst Italy’s biggest consumers of scallops, it makes sense that its fare flaunts fabulous seafood like seared scallops, rock shrimp and eel served with a glass of zesty Sauvignon Blanc, opulent Pinot Bianco, or Tocai flowing with perfectly ripened pear. All are a wonderful beginning to any meal.

On the heartier side, Friulian dining would not be complete without risotto, roasted rabbit or melt-in-your mouth tagliolini tossed with Prosciutto di San Daniele paired with an herbaceous Refosco or dark, spicy Pignolo. And, Friulians loves their pork. In Carnia, many families still raise their own pigs, which are slaughtered in ritual ceremonies and then morphed into a grab-bag of pancetta, salami and sausages, such as Musetto; a boiled sausage made from ground pork, secret seasonings, a splash of wine and the pig’s snout – don’t think too much! While “Frico,” a seasoned local Montasio cheese that is chunked and fried in butter, will do you right partnered with cagey Cabernet Franc.

To top off the meal, savor some sumptuous Picolit. Considered Italy’s top dessert wine, Picolit is often compared to Sauternes for its succulent, subtle sweet silky body. It’s delightful alongside a hunk of creamy, unpasteurized, cows milk Montasio. Perfecto!


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