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WINE REVIEW: THE WHITE WINES OF COLLIO

Andrew Chalk



Collio. Where is Collio? Also known as Collio Goriziano, It may be a candidate for the least known good winemaking area of Italy. It turns out to be very worthwhile to get to know its distinctive wines from a cornucopia of over 12 white grapes and 5 red varieties. 85% of the product is white, so all of the tasted examples are white below. These were sent to me by the enterprising wine association of the Collio DOC who want to put Collio wines on American tables.


I, for one, hope they succeed.


WHERE?

In the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the north east of Italy, north of Trieste and the town of Gorizia, and wedged up against the Italian border.


WHAT IS IT LIKE?

Hilly (colli means hillsides) to mountainous, rural. Most vineyards are around the commune of Cormons. The soil is calcareous marl and flysch sandstone.


GRAPE GROWING AND WINE PRODUCTION

Yields exceed those of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Winemaking is very modern with temperature controlled fermentation, pneumatic presses and all the signs of modern production methods. Oak is generally not used in ageing, as the emphasis is on wringing the fruit out of the grapes and into the wine.


The six samples below illustrate that.


THE TASTING

Kurtin 2019 Ribolla Gialla, Collio DOC, Italy ($15 approx.)

Regulated at 85%+ Gialla, as the grape name is on the label.


Light straw color. Nose of honey, lime, white pepper. On the palate, stinging acidity. Like a live electrically charged citrus.


LaBellanotte 2019 Pinot Grigio, Collio DOC, Italy ($NA)

Color deep gold. Nose type-correct of peanuts, . On the palate high acid.


Muzic 2019 Collio Bianco ‘Stare Brajde’, Collio DOC, Italy ($25)

Collio Bianco is advance warning that this wine is a blend of the over one dozen permitted whte varieties. The technical sheet confirms the blend as (tocai) friulano, malvasia (istriana) and ribolla gialla. The production areas are Uclanzi and Bivio in the Collio Municipality of San Floriano del Collio. The soils were hills of stratified Eocene marl and sandstone, rich in potassium where the grapes were hand-harvested with a yield of 60-70 ql./hectare.


The technical sheet describes winemaking as “de-stemming and crushing of grapes and following maceration on the skins for 12 hours at a temperature of 15°C of the three grape varieties. Soft pressing and cleaning by setting of the obtained must. Alcoholic fermentation for 8-10 days at controlled temperature (16-18°C). After the end of the fermentation, ageing on fine lees ‘sur lie’ in steel vats with ongoing batonnage till bottling. Ageing in bottle for 12 months”


Deep gold color, earthy nose with almonds, bread crust, lemons, honey, peach, green apple, lime persimmon. On the palate high acid but not stinging. Rather enjoyable smooth texture. Flavors of cantaloupe, lime, white peach.


Robert Princic, 2019 Gradis’Ciutta Friulano, Collio, Italy ($15)

100% (tokai) friulano grape.

From the technical spec.

“VINEYARD SOURCE The vines are situated in Zavogna, Ruttars and Dolgi Breg at altitudes ranging from 120 to 180 meters (400 to 600 feet) above sea level.


TRAINING SYSTEM Cultivated with the Guyot system with a production of 70-80 quintals per hectare (1.36-1.56 tons per acre).


VINFICATION: Obtained with a soft pressing from grapes macerated for 24- 48 hours at low temperatures. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Following this, comes aging on its own yeasts and then finally, bottling.”


Medium straw appearance. Nose has almonds, orange blossom, golden apples. In the mouth the acid holds attention but is not oppressive. Almond flavor in the finish.


Note: In a press release this week this winery announced that it had received organic certification.


Castello di Spessa, 2019 Pinot Bianco ‘Santarosa’, Collio DOC, Italy ($16)

Light straw color. Nose of green apple, round palate of lime, savory flavors and exquisite fruit-acid balance.


Terre de Faet 2019 Malvasia Collio DOC, Italy ($15)

Appearance of medium straw. Nose has hints of ginger. Tasting notes on the website have an interesting take “The decisive varietal olfactory impact is composed of yellow field flowers, laurel, citrus peel, summer hay and mineral puffs. Enveloping taste, with well-balanced softness from the acid-sapid tension. Tasty and corresponding closure.”


Can’t argue with that. It does add up to a very interesting wine from a grape that is usually just a small part of a blend.


THE TAKE

Collio DOC wines augment the palette of white wines through world-class expressions of many grape types. They also pair well with food (poultry, seafood, and south and east Asian cuisine that is not too spicy). Finally, they represent excellent values across the range.



Sample.



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