Italy’s Prestigious Collio

Located in the far northeastern corner of Italy, in the region known as Friuli-Venezia Giulia, you find one of Italy’s most prestigious Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) districts—the Collio. While it only covers approximately 1500 hectares (3700 acres), the Collio district produces great whites that are world renown for their quality and characteristics. All of those elements that go into defining a terroir—soil, topography, and climate—have come together beautifully to create a perfect stage for Pinot Grigio, Malvasia, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon, Ribolla Gialla, and Chardonnay to show their finest qualities.

The rolling hills of the DOC Collio are protected by the Julian Alps to the north and bathed in mild Adriatic winds from the south. This half-moon shaped area of land marks Italy’s farthest outlier before entering the neighboring Slovenia. The soil of stratified marls and sandstones of Eocene orgin (ponca), along with the climate, create wines of distinctive minerality and character. The majority of this area is planted in white varietals, although a small quantity of reds can be found.

Wine connects us! And, that was certainly the case for our search for a great white from the Collio. An Italian winemaker living in Santa Rosa, Massimiliano Buiani, suggested I meet a colleague, a friend, his best man from his wedding, who is an artisan winemaker in the Collio. And so, on a warm October afternoon, we made the short 15-minute drive from the medieval village of Cormons, through the narrow, twisting roads that trail the lush rolling hills and vineyards, to Azienda Agricola Branko, near Zegla, where we met owner and winemaker Igor Erzetic. Igor’s vineyards are literally a stones throw from the Slovenian border. Igor’s small production facility, although small, shows all the signs of an artisan who is obsessed with perfection. After a tour of his vineyards and cellar, it was time to sit down and taste. Igor makes four single varietal whites—Pinot Grigio, Friulano, Chardonnay, and Sauvginon- a white blend, and a red blend.

 

All of the characteristics we had heard used to describe the whites of the Collio—floral aromas, discreet acidity, flavorful, crisp finishes—we found in Igor’s wines, and we are excited to share them with out clients. Enjoy! 

2013 Branko Collio Pinot Grigio
Region: Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Zone: Collio
Varietal: Pinot Grigio
Style: Dry White, Medium Body

Handcrafted from 100% estate grown fruit, this classic white appears pale yellow in the glass and delivers intense aromas of green apples and peach, and a crisp, clean mineral finish to the palate.

 

 


2013 Branko Collio Friulano
Region: Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Zone: Collio
Varietal: Friulano (Tocai)
Style: Dry White, Medium Body

Igor brings out the best unique expressions of this native varietal with its characteristic aromas of bitter almonds, melon and stone fruits. The wine delivers a fine balance of fresh fruit, crisp acidity and slightly mineral finish.

 

 


Don Chigazola

Author



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