Tag Archives: Friuli

Variety Show: Spotlight on Glera (AKA Prosecco)

StefanoToday’s grape in the limelight of our Variety Show is Glera, formerly known as Prosecco.

1. From Prosecco To Glera: What’s In a Name?

Up until recently, Prosecco was the name for three things: the wine, its main grape variety and the homonymous village near the town of Trieste (in the Italian region of Friuli) that probably gave the wine and the grape their name. Relatively easy so far.

Then in 2009, with Prosecco’s popularity and sales soaring (in 2011 the overall production of Prosecco was about 265 million bottles, 55% of which were exported), the consortium of Prosecco producers obtained an official change in the name of the grape variety, from Prosecco to Glera, so that Prosecco would only be the name of the wine (and not of the grape variety too) and could therefore be reserved for its designation of origin, thus preventing other producers from other Italian regions or other countries from calling their sparkling wines Prosecco.

2. Glera’s DNA Profiling

The main grape variety that is used in the production of the wine Prosecco was called Prosecco Tondo (now Glera) which DNA profiling has shown to be identical to a rare variety that is indigenous to the Istria region of Croatia named Teran Bijeli. This evidence supports the theory of an Istrian origin for the Prosecco/Glera grape variety. Glera is a partly-aromatic white-berried grape variety.

Other grapes that may be used in the production of the wine Prosecco and that used to be considered clonal variations of Prosecco Tondo, but DNA analysis has proved to be distinct varieties, are Prosecco Lungo and Prosecco Nostrano (the latter, by the way, has been proven to be identical to Malvasia Bianca Lunga).

(Information on the grape variety taken from Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, Allen Lane 2012 – for more information about grape varieties, check out our Grape Variety Archive)

3. The Three Prosecco Appellations

Prosecco wine is made in two Italian DOCG appellations and in one more loosely regulated inter-regional DOC appellation, as follows:

  • Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene (or simply Prosecco di Valdobbiadene) DOCG in the Veneto region, near the town of Treviso;
  • Prosecco dei Colli Asolani DOCG in the Veneto region, near and including the town of Asolo;
  • Prosecco Spumante DOC, an appellation which covers a vast territory stretching between the regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The regulations of the two DOCG appellations require that their Prosecco wines be made for 85% or more from Glera grapes, to which up to 15% of Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera or Glera Lunga white-berried grapes may be blended. The regulations of the DOC appellation are similar but permit that a few additional grape varieties be blended to the Glera base grapes, as follows: Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir.

4. Prosecco As a (Generally) Charmat-Martinotti Method Sparkler

Prosecco is one of the main examples of a sparkling wine made according to the so-called Charmat-Martinotti Method production process, although there are a few producers who also make some very good Classic Method Prosecco’s (including Valdo‘s excellent Numero 10 – check out our post with a full review). Compared to the Classic Method, the Charmat-Martinotti Method is a quicker and cheaper production process for sparkling wine, which is known to maximize primary (or varietal) aromas although it generally sacrifices the wine structure and the finest perlage. For more detailed information, please refer to our post on the Charmat-Martinotti Method.

5. Recommended Prosecco Producers

Recommended producers of outstanding Prosecco wines include, among others of course:

Adami, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut “Rive di Farra di Soligo Col Credas” DOCG ($21)

Le Colture, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze Dry DOCG ($30) – Click for a full review

Montelvini, Prosecco di Asolo Superiore Millesimato Extra Dry “Venegazzù” DOCG NV ($15) – Click for a full review

Nino Franco, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut “Vigneto della Riva di San Floriano” DOCG ($28)

Valdo, Prosecco Brut Metodo Classico “Numero 10” DOC (€18) – Click for a full review


Frittata Primavera – Recommended Wine Pairing

Cantina Terlano, Alto Adige Terlano Sauvignon "Quarz" DOCWell, it has been quite a while since our last food pairing post, so time to catch up on things…

Today we will pair Francesca’s frittata primavera with a proper wine.

As we did in the past, we will base our choice on the ISA wine paring criteria: should you have missed my post about them, you may refer to it to get a better idea of what these are.

We will therefore start by identifying the main qualities of the food we want to pair a wine with, which in the case of the frittata are: latent sweetness, fatness, some greasiness and latent acidity due to the use of tomatoes; also, we can classify Francesca’s frittata as a dish with medium structure.

St. Michael Eppan, Alto Adige Sauvignon "Sanct Valentin" DOCAs we know, using the ISA wine pairing criteria, these qualities are going to dictate the corresponding characteristics that we want our wine to possess, which are (in the same orider as above): good acidity, tastiness/minerality, decent ABV and smoothness, plus the wine we seek should be medium-bodied or thereabouts.

In light of these desired characteristics, our choice has fallen on a Sauvignon Blanc. In an effort to spread the knowledge that Italy also produces quality wines from international varieties, we will focus our recommendations on a few Italian 100% Sauvignon Blancs that are definitely worth trying out, if you have a chance:

Cantina Terlano, Alto Adige Terlano Sauvignon “Quarz” DOC, a delicious wine that ages for 9 months on its lees (partly in steel vats and partly in wood barrels) and boasts a pleasing bouquet of citrus, Granny Smith apple, exotic fruit, herbs and minerals

Vie di Romans, Friuli Isonzo Rive Alte Sauvignon "Piere" DOCSt. Michael Eppan, Alto Adige Sauvignon “Sanct Valentin” DOC, a very good wine from the winery’s flagship “Sanct Valentin” line, that ages for 6 months on its lees (88% in steel vats and 12% in wood barrels) and has fine aromas of citrus, grapefruit, white flowers, herbs and iodine notes

Vie di Romans, Friuli Isonzo Rive Alte Sauvignon “Piere” DOC, a wonderful Sauvignon Blanc made of grapes harvested from a vineyard with an excellent density of 6,000 vines/HA that ages for 7 months on its lees in steel vats and seduces the senses with a captivating bouquet of lemon, tangerine, sage, almond and minerals

Manincor, Alto Adige Sauvignon “Lieben Aich” DOC, a very interesting wine that undergoes spontaneous fermentation through the use of natural yeasts, ages on its lees for ten months in oak barrels and has elegant aromas of citrus, exotic fruit, herbs, white flowers and minerals

Manincor, Alto Adige Sauvignon "Lieben Aich" DOCVilla Russiz, Collio Sauvignon “De La Tour” DOC, an elegant wine that ages for 7 months on its lees in steel vats and possesses a complex bouquet of apple, kiwi, white flowers, citrus, herbs and iodine notes.

Enjoy, and as always, if you happen to try out any of these wines,  let me know how you like them!

Saffron "Milanese" Risotto – Recommended Wine Pairing (and a bit of trivia re Tocai)

Blason, Friuli Isonzo Friulano "Casa in Bruma" DOCSo, yeah, I’m still in catch-up mode with my wine pairing recommendations… Sorry if it took me a while, but here we go: these are my suggestions in terms of what to pair with Francesca’s wonderful Saffron Milanese Risotto (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite risotto’s!)

To complement this luscious dish, you should pick a wine with good acidity, fairly intense aromas and flavor, noticeable minerality and decent structure, as in a medium-bodied wine.

Based on the above, I am going to recommend a Friulano wine, from the Italian Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Before we go to the actual recommendations, however, let’s just say a few words about this wine, including a bit of trivia 🙂

Friulano is the relatively new name for the grape variety that used to be known as Tocai. The change in name was due to the outcome of a dispute before the European Court of Justice that in 2005 prohibited Italian winemakers, starting March 2007, from using the word Tocai to identify their wines or grape varieties, on the grounds that the use of the word “Tocai” by the Italians could be confusing with the very famous (and delicious!) Hungarian sweet botrytized wineTokaji“, which is a word that started being used to identify such wine before anyone else used any similar term, including Tocai in the Friuli and Veneto regions of Italy. Incidentally, note that in Hungary “Tokaji” is only the name of the wine, not that of the prevalent grape variety it is made of, which instead is called Furmint.

Ronco del Gelso, Friuli Isonzo Rive Alte Friulano "Toc Bas" DOCAs a result of the aforesaid European Court of Justice decision (and despite, let me note, Italian Tocai being a dry white wine and therefore completely different from Hungaian Tokaji, which is a sweet wine), Italian authorities and Tocai producers from the two affected regions (Friuli and Veneto) needed to come up with a different name to call their own grapes and the wine made out of them.

In one of the best examples of Italian bureaucracy at its finest, a decision was made to call the same grape variety in two different ways: “Friulano” in the region of Friuli and “Tai” in the region of Veneto. As if being required to drop the Tocai designation altogether had not brought enough confusion in the market… 🙁

Regarding Friulano (or Tocai) as a grape variety, DNA profiling has shown that it is identical to Sauvignonasse, an old white-berried grape variety that originated in the Gironde region of France and that (despite what the name would make you think) is not related to Sauvignon. Sauvignonasse vines were brought to the North-Eastern Italian region of Friuli in the XIX century where it was given the name Tokai, which later on muted into Tocai, in the first quarter of the XX century (information on the grape varieties, cit. Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, HarperCollins 2012).

Vigne di Zamò, Colli Orientali del Friuli Friulano "Vigne Cinquant'anni" DOCLet’s now focus on a few recommendations of quality Friulano wines that you may consider pairing with a saffron Milanese risotto (all of the options below are varietal wines, made of 100% Friulano grapes):

  • Blason, Friuli Isonzo Friulano “Casa in Bruma” DOC, with aromas of peach, almond and minerals
  • Livio Felluga, Colli Orientali del Friuli Friulano DOC, with a bouquet of citrus, almond, herbs and minerals
  • La Tunella, Colli Orientali del Friuli Friulano DOC, with aromas of white flowers, pear, almond and mineral hints
  • Le Vigne di Zamò, Colli Orientali del Friuli Friulano “Vigne Cinquant’anni” DOC, with a wonderful bouquet of apple, citrus, tropical fruit and minerals
  • Ronco del Gelso, Friuli Isonzo Rive Alte Friulano “Toc Bas” DOC, with aromas of white flowers, peach, apricot, almond, hazelnut and mineral hints.

As usual, if you get to try out any of these wines, let us all know how you liked it by dropping a comment below!


Spaghetti alla Carbonara – Recommended Wine Pairing

Les Crêtes, VdA Chardonnay Cuvée Bois DOCThis wine pairing post for Francesca’s mouth-watering Spaghetti alla Carbonara has been long overdue – apologies if it took me so long, but my Italian spumante series in view of the end-of-year festivities kind of got in the way 🙂

Without further ado, let’s now get to it: picking up where we left off in response to a prophetic question from Chiara (the gracious and posh image consultant who authors the “effortless style” blog Kiarastyle) in the comment section of Francesca’s recipe post, my suggestions are to either pair it with a structured Chardonnay with some oak-aging, good acidity and minerality or go for a red wine with good acidity, gentle tannins and ideally some minerality, such as a Pinot Noir from the North-Eastern region of Alto Adige.

St. Michael-Eppan, A.A. Chardonnay Sanct Valentin DOCThere is not much to say that is not already widely known about the two grape varieties that I picked, since they are both international varieties (as opposed to grapes indigenous to Italy). However, something worth mentioning is that in regards to Chardonnay you will notice that my recommendations span pretty much across the entire Italian territory, literally from Valle d’Aosta to Sicily, while my Pinot Noir choices focus on one specific region, Alto Adige. This is because, while Chardonnay has been very successfully grown in different terroirs in North, Central and even Southern Italy, the same is not true for Pinot Noir, whose best results are attained in the region of Alto Adige first and foremost, and then in Lombardia and Valle d’Aosta. This is hardly a surprise considering how finicky a grape variety Pinot Noir is compared to the great versatility and adaptability of Chardonnay grapes.

Elena Walch, A.A. Beyond the Clouds DOCWith that said, let’s get down to the recommendations, starting from our mini-tour of Italy showcasing some of my all-time favorite Italian Chardonnays:

  • Les Crêtes, Valle d’Aosta Chardonnay Cuvée Bois DOC from Valle d’Aosta (100% Chardonnay; in my view a phenomenal wine with a wonderful bouquet of wildflowers, jasmine, pineapple and butter – hats off to the producer who invested the energy and resources necessary to achieve a density of 7,500 vines/HA in the vineyard used to create this magnificent wine)
  • St Michael-Eppan, Alto Adige Chardonnay Sanct Valentin DOC from Alto Adige (100% Chardonnay; with scents of Mirabelle plum, butter, vanilla and almond)
    Castello della Sala, Bramito del Cervo Umbria IGT
  • Elena Walch, Alto Adige Beyond the Clouds DOC from Alto Adige (“predominantly” Chardonnay blended with other white grape varieties based on a proprietary recipe; with scents of peach, pineapple, almond, butter and vanilla)
  • Jermann, W? Dreams Venezia Giulia IGT from Friuli Venezia Giulia (97% Chardonnay, 3% other grape varieties kept it a secret by the winery; with aromas of Mirabelle plum, citrus, vanilla and a smoky hint – a special note of merit to the producer who achieved a density of almost 8,000 vines/HA in the vineyards used to create this excellent wine)
  • Tenute Folonari, La Pietra Tenute del Cabreo Toscana IGT from Toscana (100% Chardonnay; with scents of peach, butter, honey, hazelnut and flint)
    Planeta, Chardonnay Sicilia IGT
  • Castello della Sala, Bramito del Cervo Umbria IGT from Umbria (100% Chardonnay; with fine aromas of wildflowers, pineapple, Mirabelle plum, butter, vanilla and hazelnut)
  • Planeta, Chardonnay Sicilia IGT from Sicily (100% Chardonnay; with complex and elegant scents of wisteria, peach, apple, honey, butter, vanilla, hazelnut and chalk)

Finally, these are some of my favorite Italian Pinot Noirs for their quality to price ratio (note that all of the wines below are 100% Pinot Noir):

  • Elena Walch, Alto Adige Pinot Nero Ludwig DOC (with scents of rose, wild strawberry and plum)
    Elena Walch, A.A. Pinot Noir Ludwig DOC
  • St Michael-Eppan, Alto Adige Pinot Nero Riserva DOC (with aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry and soil)
  • Manincor, Alto Adige Pinot Nero Mason DOC (with scents of wild strawberry, raspberry and cranberry)
  • Hofstätter, Alto Adige Pinot Nero Mazon Riserva DOC (with aromas of wild strawberry, cherry and cranberry)
  • Muri-Gries, Alto Adige Blauburgunder Abtei Muri Riserva DOC (with scents of wild strawberry, cranberry and plum)

That’s all for now – enjoy some good wine and as always let me know if you get to try any of these wines!

Muri Gries, A.A. Blauburgunder Abtei Muri Riserva DOC

Prosciutto and Fennel Salad: Recommended Wine Pairing

I would suggest that with Francesca’s intriguing prosciutto and fennel salad you pair a white wine from Italy’s Northeastern region Friuli Venezia Giulia, particularly a Friulano or a Malvasia Istriana. Below are a few recommendations of some of the best that the winemakers of that region can offer, all with a very interesting price point for their excellent quality.

Friulano is a varietal white wine made from Friulano grapes: these are the same grapes that up until 2007 used to be called Tocai or Tocai Friulano, but now cannot be called like that any more because of the outcome of a dispute before the European Court of Justice between Hungary and Italy as to the right to use the word Tokaj or similar (such as Tocai). Specifically, in 2005 the Court held that, despite Tocai Friulano’s long history, “in consideration of the Hungarian geographical denomination ‘Tokaj’, the appellation of the Italian grape variety ‘Tocai Friulano’ [could] not be used anymore for the designation and identification of some Italian wines” starting from 2007.

Genetic testing showed that there are two different clones of Friulano grape: one is the Sauvignon Vert grape and the other one originated from a French grape called Sauvignonasse that has not been planted in France since the XIX century but is still grown in Chile. Friulano has no relation to and is not to be confused with Hungarian Tokaji wine, an extraordinary botrytized raisin sweet white wine made of Furmint grapes in the Hungarian region of Tokaj.

An excellent example of Friulano wine is Borgo San Daniele’s Friuli Isonzo Friulano DOC, a varietal dry white wine made of 100% Friulano grapes, with pleasant aromas of white peach, almond, wildflowers, and a slight smoky touch.

A quality alternative would be Blason’s Friuli Isonzo Friulano “Casa in Bruma” DOC, another white wine made of 100% Friulano grapes, with scents of white peach, pear and almond.

In the U.S., a commendable attempt to grow and make wine out of Friulano grapes is that of the Millbrook winery in NY State, whose Tocai Friulano, Hudson River Region, has pear, lemon, grapefruit and slight smoky aromas and is worth a try if you come across a bottle.

Instead of a Friulano, you could opt to pair Francesca’s prosciutto and fennel salad with a Malvasia Istriana, another traditional varietal white wine made in Friuli from Malvasia Istriana grapes. Malvasia Istriana is one of the many varieties of Malvasia (in Italian), Malvoisie (in French) or Malmsey (in English) grapes that exist in various parts of the world and centuries ago originated from the name of the Greek town of Monembasia.

A phenomenal example of Malvasia Istriana is Doro Princic’s Collio Malvasia Istriana DOC, a varietal dry white wine made of 100% Malvasia Istriana, which displays a complex bouquet of scents, including honey, peach, almond and magnolia and linden blossoms, coupled with delicate smoky hints and a long aftertaste.

An equally satisfying alternative would be Dario Raccaro’s Collio Malvasia DOC, another white wine made of 100% Malvasia Istriana, with aromas of magnolia and broom blossoms, white peach, citrus and pineapple as well as a slightly smoky finish.

Unfortunately, as of October 2012, neither of the two preceding wineries have a Website, in spite of the excellent quality of their wines. Should you wish to visit or reach out to them, feel free to drop me an email.

And if you have already tried out any of the wines mentioned above or wish to recommend another one that you think would go well with a dish like the prosciutto and fennel salad, please let us all know by leaving a comment to this post.