Last week, our correspondent at VinItaly was pleased to discover some cool and funky ancient Friulian varietals. Here at Food Republic HQ we were already familiar with the relatively unsung region thanks to a meet-up we had a few weeks ago with Venica & Venica owner Giampaolo Venica. Friuli, hard to pronounce, good to know. 

Giampaolo was in NYC for a few days with his wife Chiara, so we took the opportunity to meet up with the chic newlyweds at the terroir-driven wine bar Anfora to sip some vino and talk Friuli.

The compact region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, to use its full name, is nestled along the borders of Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria. Giampaolo is a fourth-generation winemaker and remembers running through the vineyard as a child and seeing soldiers just across the border. 

The proximity to other countries and cultures has given Friuli a unique culinary tradition with Austrian, Venetian, and Slavic influences. The region is best known as the home to foods such as San Daniele prosciutto and frico, which is cheese cooked with potatoes and onions. And of course the wines: fragrant crisp whites and spicy reds. We tasted through some of the 2009 vintage:

  • Ronco Delle Mele This translates to “hill of the apples,” and indeed these Sauvignon Blanc grapes are from a vineyard planted on a hill where an apple orchard affects the terroir. The wine is fruity and herbal with a lot of citrus and a little bit of funk.
  • Friulano This wine is made from 100 percent Friulano grapes and is the everyday drinking wine in Friuli. Very low acid with an almost nutty taste.
  • Jesera The word Jesera is Slovenian for “little lake,” and is the name of the vineyard where these Pinot Grigio grapes are grown. This wine is full and lush, with great acidity. 

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