Friuli-Venezia Giulia lies in the far northeast corner of Italy, bounded by borders of Austria and Slovenia to the north and east respectively. The wine region has four DOCGs, twelve DOCs, and three IGPs and is best known for its white wine production. 77 per cent of wine from the region is white, one of the highest proportions of any Italian region.
Wine from this region is mostly made using the non-traditional grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Bianco, but also some quintessentially Italian grapes such as Pinot Grigio and the region's own Picolit.
Friuli's signature white grape Friulano creates a classic example of these refreshing wines. It was once known as Tocai Friulano but misleading associations with Hungary's prestigious Tokaji wine prompted a change under international law (it is now simply called Tai).
Another indigenous grape used to create crisp, lively wine styles is Verduzzo, which is used widely around the region.
In terms of terroir, the most important influence on Friuli-Venezia Giulia's vineyards is their position between the Alps and the Adriatic. The mountainous topography in the north and east lifts many vineyards above the low-lying cloud that is sometimes trapped between the hills and the coast. This allows the vines to bask in bright sunshine without overheating, allowing the grapes to develop full phenolic ripeness and aromatic depth before their sugar levels peak.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia's reputation as a wine region essentially depends on a select group of quality-conscious, small-scale winemakers – large-scale production is not on the agenda here.
The wine produced has been increasingly derived from international grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Sparkling wines, generally made in the Charmat method, have started to emerge alongside the still wines, and the region is also responsible for a large quantity of Prosecco.