Exploring Italy: Zuani
My new found love for Italian wines continues to grow, and this time Zuani Wines has played a big part in the growth of my affinity towards these high quality, flavor-packed wines that offer great structure and depth. Both of the Zuani blended whites that I recently tried blew me away with their robustly intense complexity and palate pleasing balance between acidity and fruit – which create the ultimate foodie wines.
The 2011 Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco ($24) is a blend of Friulano, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio matured in stainless steel vats. Lightly elegant aromas of apples and almonds with a hint of herbs come to life on the palate offering rich, complex structure and a nice, long, fruity and zesty lemony finish with pleasing, refreshing minerality. My palate was yearning for a big plate of Oregon Dungeness Crab – if I had only had some on hand…
The 2010 Zuani Zuani Collio Bianco ($37) is also blend of Friulano, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio that was aged in new barrels of French oak, providing an incredible depth of character along with robust aromas and flavors and an outstandingly elegant mouthfeel. A beautiful golden hue in the glass, aromas of apples, vanilla and hazelnuts were followed by similar rich flavors. A nice, long finish was enhanced by vanilla and toasted hazelnuts, and I loved the way it coated my mouth with a velvety, palate pleasing texture. Beautifully rounded and balanced, from front to back, this was outstanding in every way, I absolutely loved it.
Not being real familiar with the grape varietal, Friulano, which is used in both the 2011 Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco and the 2010 Zuani Zuani Collio Bianco, prompted me to do a little research. According to Friulano & Friends, Friulano is considered to have a number of distinctive characteristics, that I certainly discovered while tasting the Zuani’s.
“Friulano is a fine, delicate, elegant, well-structured and balanced wine, made from grapes that grow abundantly on knobbly and contorted vines. It is bright straw-yellow or golden in colour. Its broad bouquet is marked by a harmony of vegetal notes, mainly hay, meadow flowers, thyme, and chamomile with a winey streak and hints of clean mineral accents.”
The wine region or appellation in Italy where the Friulano is grown is Friuli Venezia Giulia, D.O.C. Collio, located in the far northeastern corner of Italy, next to Austria and Slovenia – a region that is renowned for producing some of Italy’s finest white wines. Zuani’s 30 acre vineyard in the D.O.C. Collio zone is sustainably maintained. Sitting on a hillside with soils of marl and sandstone, vines and gardens surround the cellar. Zuani is a family-owned winery run by fifth generation Patrizia Felluga, who followed in her legendary father’s winemaking footsteps, Marco Felluga. For years, Patrizia and her children looked for the perfect vineyard site, and in 2001 they found the exceptional 30 acre site where Zuani now sits. The soil, climate and grape varieties on this site gives the wine a distinctive cru-like quality. The name Zuani came from a geographic name found on an ancient map of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although the Friuli Venezia Giulia region is most well-known for single vineyard varieties, the Zuani blends have successfully created well balanced, outstanding wine using the indigenous Friulano grape along with international varieties like the Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon.
Thanks to Cornerstone Communications for providing me with these samples. They were each truly remarkable wines – kudos to Patrizia and her two children. Cin Cin!
Side note: Further research of the Friulano varietal led me to the Oregon Wine Board website, where I discovered Friulano is grown in Oregon! Oregon winemakers and wine growers: If you grow or produce wine from the Friulano grape, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org