The compact wine region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia in the north-eastern edges of Italy is a unique place, nestled along the borders of Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria. 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 gulash, San Daniele prosciutto and frico — crispy cheese discs. And of course the wines: predominantly fragrant crisp whites and some spicy reds. So when Patrizia Felluga of Zuani Wines was in town recently, we sat with her and her kids to taste the latest vintage.
Patrizia is the daughter of Marco Felluga who is one of the most renowned winemakers in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. But Patrizia and Marco are only the most current members of an Italian wine-making dynasty. The Felluga family has been making wine since the late 1800s. Fifth-generation Patrizia currently works with her children, Antonio and Caterina — the sixth-generation — at their 30-acre vineyard. (Her brother Roberto, sister Alessandra and uncle Livio all make wine as well.)
Patrizia started to make her Zuani wines just 13 years ago. The vineyard is in northeastern Italy, tucked between Austria and Slovenia. It’s in the Collio DOC zone, which produces some of Friuli’s best white wines, marked by crisp acidity, ripe fruit and great minerality. The Fellugas believe that “the soul of the wine is created from the soil that gives it life, the light that shines on it and the air that gives it fragrance.”
The family concentrates on making only two white wines, Zuani Vigne and Zuani Zuani (the word Zuani is a historical geographic name for the area found on an ancient map of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.)
Both wines are a blend of two indigenous Friulian grapes —Pinot Grigio and Friulano — and two international varieties —Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, all of which thrive in the region. The Vigne wines are fermented in stainless steel to enhance their fresh, fruity personality; the grapes for Zuani Zuani are aged in French oak.
The resulting wines are The Zuani Vigne wines are soft, with good fruit, mineral notes and good acidity; they’re more versatile than the ZZs. The Zuani Zuani wines are richer, more complex, fuller bodied and capable of aging well. They have more concentrated flavors and a full, long finish.
What We Tasted:
Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco 2011: Floral, citrusy crisp, with good acidity.
Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco 2010: Great minerality and acidity with lots of grapefruit, lime, and melon.
Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco 2007: Aromas and flavors of peach, apricot and some almond. Mouth-filling fruit. Medium to full bodied, well balanced, mineral intensity, long fruity finish. Also recognized by Tre Bicchieri.
Zuani Zuani Collio Bianco Riserva 2010: Aromatic, citrusy, with a hint of vanilla and toast from the oak.