Archive for the ‘Friulano’ Category

Livio Felluga is a highly respected name in Friulian wine, and rightly so. Since the middle of the last century, at least, the family firm has been at the forefront of quality wine production in Friuli and a leader in raising the quality of — and calling worldwide attention to – the varietal wines of Friuli, especially the white varieties...

Tocai – now called Friulano – was the native variety that first drew the wine world’s attention to Friuli. The Felluga family championed it, and I can still recall my pleasure at sipping its almond-inflected goodness, way back when I first encountered it, longer ago than any of us would care to recall.

Livio Felluga

I remember with equally deep pleasure my first press visit to the Felluga estate, tasting the whole range of its white varieties while listening to Livio, the principal winemaker, delivering a non-stop monologue of carabinieri jokes that had us all – even those who spoke no Italian – in stitches. I briefly wondered whether anyone so funny could possibly make great wine. He could, and he did. The Italian wine world was rich in such multi-faceted characters in those days.

Terre Alte was Livio Felluga’s great invention. First produced in 1981, it was from the start – and still remains – a blend of three white varieties in pretty much equal proportions: Friulano, Pinot bianco, and Sauvignon. All are grown in some of the best and highest fields – thus the wine’s name – of the firm’s great Rosazzo property, where the soils are a complex of marl and decomposing sandstone.

Felluga’s Rosazzo Vineyards

While there is obviously some slight variation from vintage to vintage, Terre Alte has maintained a pretty consistent character right from its start: It’s a big wine, round and full in the mouth, with great aromatics – minerals and flowers, white fruits and forest scents – and a highly complex, mineral-inflected palate marked by notes of apricot and tropical fruits. With all that, Terre Alte also ages very well, growing subtler and deeper as it does. This is a world-class white wine, from one of the best sites and best producers in one of the world’s great white wine regions.

Just recently I opened a bottle of the 2007 Terre Alte to match with Diane’s beautiful dish of braised chicken and morel mushrooms in cream. I am not a great chicken aficionado, but I thought this combination of flavors and textures was wonderful – and the Terre Alte thought so too.

The wine was a lovely copper-gold color. I don’t know whether it was the power of that visual suggestion, or whether this vintage was an example of the ramato style that used to be more common in Friulian whites, but the very floral nose was marked by a distinct coppery edge that I found very attractive. In the mouth, the wine was big and round, balanced, with fine acid. Minerals and flowers and dry white fruits dominated the palate, with dried apricot notes becoming more and more prominent as the wine opened.

This was a very nuanced wine: nothing blatant, but lots of intriguing flavor hintlets and that persistent coppery edge. And it had one final surprise: with cheese, it suddenly felt very clean and fresh, as if it had shed years of aging.

If only wine writers could do the same. Sigh.

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