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Friuli’s reputation is often dwarfed by its larger neighbor Veneto, but despite the region’s lesser renown, Friuli is full of top-quality producers, and increasingly conscientious growers who work to organic and biodynamic principles. French varieties have been planted for years in this part of north-east Italy, which borders Slovenia and Austria and is merely an hour’s drive away from Venice!

Yet despite the ubiquitous plantings of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris, wine connoisseurs are more excited by the ever-growing potential of the local Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Pignolo, Refosco, and Malvasia Istriana: wines of distinctive character that speak of their origins. The area has emerged over the past decade as a major quality zone, led by a generation of winemakers who firmly believe in the benefits of organic and biodynamic grape growing, who are producing ever more potent, concentrated and structured wines without the aid of fertilizers, pesticides, and man-made inputs. We have listed our favorite producers below:

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Vignai da Duline

Lorenzo and Federica are a formidable husband and wife team who make consistently superb wines from 7 ha of vineyards. Lorenzo inherited his grandfathers unloved, unkempt vineyards in 1997 and quickly decided to embark on a project of restoration, converting to bio-dynamic principles and restoring the natural balance of their precious terroir. Prematurely ending his medical school career, Lorenzo and Federica converted to bio-dynamic viticulture with amazing ease and now craft a range of superlative wines from both indigenous and international varieties. They also own Friuli’s oldest organically farmed vineyard, Ronco Pitotti, and their top wines have a purity, concentration, and minerality that is truly impressive. Bravo!

Via IV Novembre, 136,
San Giovani al Natisone UD,
Italy
www.vignaidaduline.com

Miani

Enzo Pontoni’s minuscule output is some of the most sought-after and highly regarded wine in Italy.
The former engineer took over the family vineyards after his father passed away, deciding to convert to organic principle and has not looked back since. This is an estate that does not compromise on anything, encouraging extremely low yields and severe grape selection, all in adherence to rigorous organic methods. The results speak for themselves: his wines are beautifully crafted, expressive, concentrated and very classy. In particular, refined Tocai Friulano (from 65-year old vines) captures the essence of this indigenous grape. Make sure to try these wines, if you get the chance!

Via Peruzzi 10,
33042 Buttrio UD,
Italy

Mont’Albano

Although producing a significant range of red and white wines (and a Prosecco too), Mont’Albano has stayed true to its founding principles of quality and consistency over volume. Founded in 1985 in the heart of the region, the owner Mauro Braidot wanted from the outset to produce wines according to organic principles and today is the poster-child for successful organic viticulture, without unduly sacrificing yields. All the wines are stylish, expressive and fruit-centered, the whites being of particular note. The Pinot Gris is one of the finest in the region; showing pear drop and summer stone fruits and a remarkable purity.

Mont’Albano Esse Pi Spa,
37024 Negrar in Valpolicella,
Verona,
Italy

www.montalbanobio.it

Josko Gravner

This leading producer in Friuli has pushed the boundaries of bio-dynamic viticulture, and owner Josko Gravener has gone where no-one else had previously dared in his pursuit of excellence. Gravener was dissatisfied with the quality of his whites in the mid-90s, despite their potential and started experimenting with more extreme viticultural and vinification methods. Today, absolutely no chemicals are used whatsoever, and vines are planted at very high densities and give very low yields. The whites are now utterly outstanding: Bianco Breg is a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon and Pinot Gris, a wine of considerable depth, concentration, and power. It is deeply colored and marvelously complex, a testament to the skill and brilliance of Josko Gravner and his team!

Fraz. Oslavia,
Via Lenzuolo Bianco 9,
34070 Gorizia

www.gravner.it

Le Due Terre

Another boutique estate following the model set down by Miani and others – low yields, organic practices, and a minuscule output. Founded by Silvana Forte and Flavio Basilicata in 1984, Le Due Terre produces just a few thousand bottles of high-quality reds and whites. The owners work to strict organic principles and the use of pesticides and other chemicals is banned. Their wines are mostly classic Friulian blends, the white from Tocai Friulano and Ribolla Gialla, the red from Refresco and Schioppettino. A varietal Merlot, with its dense concentrated fruit and cool-climate finesse, is the icing on the cake. A superb range of organic wines.

Via Roma 68/B,
33040 Prepotto UD,
Italy

Moschioni

Michele Moschioni is already a living a legend among his peers in Friuli, a man who works without compromise and crafts as naturally as possible with spectacular results. As expected, only organic fertilizers are used in his vineyards, and Michele is a major advocate of using hitherto obscure local varieties in Friuli. His wines are totally authentic, naturally made and speak of their origins, the Schioppettino must be tasted to be believed! It offers a pure, seductive elegance, loaded with spicy sweet cheery fruit in abundance. Undoubtedly one of the most astonishing and impressive wines of the region.

Loc. Gagliano,
33043 Cividale del Friuli UD
Italy

www.michelemoschioni.it

Damijan Podversic

Damijan Podversic is one of the pioneers of organic viticulture and the alternative school of winemaking now so popular in Friuli. He rejects man-made fertilizers and modern winemaking devices and additions, tutored under the guidance of the legendary Josko Gravner. There is no temperature control, finings, or filtrations. The resulting wines are unique in style; complex, concentrated and very age-worthy! Both the reds and the whites are of consistency high quality, but it is the whites that really amaze the critics. Kaplija is an extremely complex, rounded and honeyed white, while the wild herb-scented Ribolla Gialla is one of the wine world’s true originals.

Via Brigata Pavia 61,
34170 Gorizia

www.damijanpodversic.com

 

Franco Terpin

Franco Terpin and his family have been growing vines since the late 1970s when they decided to abandon the other crops and pursue a life in wine. Today, small quantities of superlative wines are produced from 10 ha of vineyards. All the wines are organically made and Franco is gradually converting to bio-dynamic viticulture. His output is bottled without stabilization or filtration, and these wines certainly aren’t for the faint hearted! Firmly structured, powerful and assertive, the reds in particular need at least 4-5 years bottle age. The white Collio Biano is arguably Franco’s star wine – richly scented and expansive with stylish peach, pear and citrus fruit, coming from a blend of Sauvignon, Tocai, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. One of the Friuli classics.

Loc. Valerisce 6/A,
34070 San Floriano del Friuli GO
Italy

www.francoterpin.com

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Cellar Tours is a Luxury Travel Specialist, operating since 2003 and offering exclusive Mercedes chauffeured Gourmet Vacations in Chile, France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa, and Spain. We specialize in luxurious custom designed vacations, events and incentives related to food and wine. We are proud members of Slow Food, UNAV (Travel Agency Association in Spain), and the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals).

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