Drink again. As Stephen Brook found on a recent trip to Friuli, there is a nucleus of winemakers crafting Pinot Grigios on the slopes of Friuli with more poise and persistence than its bland alter-ego ever had.
Friuli Venezia Giulia is a vast region, taking in the flat alluvial lands around Pordenone and Udine in the west, and the maritime flatlands of Aquiliea and Latisana near the huge Marano Lagoon. Here the wines tend to be well made but, with a few exceptions, they rarely rise to great heights. The problem is one of yields: at least 75 hectolitres/ hectare and thus not ludicrously high, but high enough to limit ripening and flavour. (An IGT Pinot Grigio can be cropped at up to 190hl/ha. Water indeed.) The wines tend to be characterised by blandness. Even Marco Rabino of Ca’ Bolani, one of the largest producers, admits that its Pinot Grigio is made to be drunk within two years.
The best zones for the variety in Friuli are Colli Orientali, Collio and the northern part of Isonzo. They have excellent soils and microclimates, but also a large number of producers who take Pinot Grigio seriously, even though they may differ in the styles they aim for. The main difference between these three zones and those further south and west such as Grave and Aquileia is that they are mostly hilly: the soils tend to be marl and limestone, and growers can choose the right slopes and expositions to ensure full ripeness at moderate yields.
See Stephen Brook 13 top Pinot Grigios here
Sumptuous apple and mango nose. Quite exotic. Creamy apple compote flavours on the palate, opulent but not heavy.
Pale copper-pink. Rich, nutty pear nose. Creamy, powerful and spicy, with a juicy texture, yet has pungency and fine balancing
Ripe, spicy nose, pear crumble. Swaggering palate. With great breadth of fruit, this is concentrated but accessible, with fine acidity
Subtle, floral, ripe pear nose. Rich, creamy and concentrated, with fine but discreet acidity. Delicious fruit, nutty but bright and
Bracing melon and mango nose, seems oaky although it is unoaked. Firm and concentrated, with extract and vigour, ample personality
Heady floral nose with ripe apple fruit. Good attack, lively but also has weight and concentration, with just a hint
Coppery colour. Startling nose of strawberry, honey and flowers. Medium-bodied, with a grape-skin burr, moderate acidity, and a firm dry
Perfumed citrus and apple nose. Concentrated and suave, yet has firm underlying acidity. Fresh and citric but shows some mineral
Delicate pear nose, pretty and elegant. Suave and juicy, with depth. Intense with a long spicy finish. Finesse.
Rich, heady pear nose. Full-bodied and concentrated, with plump pear fruit. Spicy and long, with potential to age.
Stern but ripe apple and melon nose. Plump and rounded, close to overripe with a hint of sweetness. Creamy, tangy,
Opulent, appley nose. Firm and dry, a touch austere now and lightly phenolic, concentrated and textured. Quite long with a