Italian Indigenous Varieties: Franconia Nera & Fubiano Bianco

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I have a goal for this month’s indigenous varieties series: I need to reach the end of the “F” varieties by the end of August. This is to explain why I am jumping around a bit this month instead of going strictly in order.

Back to our weekly grape varieties, Franconia Nera is a grape that grows in Friuli Venezia Giulia, specifically used in a variety of denominazione d’origine controllata (D.O.C.) wines such as those of Friuli Isonzo and Friuli Latisana.

While it is not 100% documented, the general idea is that this grape came to Italy from Austria. The grape is widely planted in Austria and Germany as well as Eastern European countries where it is known as Blaufrankisch and/or Lemberger. It was first mentioned in Friuli in 1879 and also grows in the Trentino, the Veneto and Lombardia. The grape is a hearty red grape that is quite resistant to diseases of the vine. It is a grape that produces fruity wines with good color and full body as well as alcohol and acidity. It used to be used in Italy as a blending grape but today is mostly vinified as a mono-varietal wine. I have not had the pleasure of trying one from Italy but have had many from Austria and even from Long Island. I like wines made from this robust variety although at times they do suffer from a lack of elegance.

This week’s white variety is Fubiano Bianco, a cross made by Giovanni Dalmasso in 1936 from Furmint and Trebbiano Toscano. Dalmasso created many new varieties throughout his long career. This one was created as a possible alternative to Furmint because it doesn’t suffer from millerandage where uneven sized grapes grow in the bunch. I couldn’t find any producers of this grape today but I am still on the look out. In 2004, less than 10 hectares (24.7 acres) of this variety were grown throughout Italy.

Only five more varieties that start with the letter “F” to go. Thus far I have written about 110 grape varieties in this series over the course of a number of years.

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