Cab Franc in Friuli Venezia Giulia

Italy

Cabernet Franc in the world is the focus of this month’s #WinePW blogging group. Our host Wendy Klik decided that in honor of #CabFrancDay which we celebrated on December 4th, we should look at this grape that was used primarily as a blending grape for Bordeaux until being bottled as a lone varietal in Chinon, France.

I chose Friuli because it’s an area I have been thinking about and where I have some wonderful Cabernet Franc. Friuli has a variety of DOCs that grow Cabernet Franc including Colli Orientali del Friuli and Friuli Isonzo. My focus is more on Isonzo because I have visited and met some of the producers

Cabernet Franc, along with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, have been in Friuli for more than a century. Many say cuttings were brought by Napoleon. No matter it’s point of arrival, the grapes are part of the Friuli landscape for a long time and have adapted to the terroir.

The Isonzo is a plain with wonderful alluvial soils filled with gravel and sand. It is also the name of a river. It has a right and a left bank with different soils the left has more clay while the right more chalk. The area has a maritime climate with more rainfall than some other parts of Friuli and the nearby Adriatic sea also impacts the area, bringing drying day breezes. The mountains to the North bring cold night air and this exchange brings great diurnal temperature changes which helps produce quality fruit and reminds one of growing conditions and soils in Bordeaux where Cabernet Franc comes from.

I have visited two producers in this area Lis Neris and Tenuta di Blasig, though there are many others. Tenuta di Blasig makes a Cabernet Franc that impressed me. Here is a long post I wrote about the winery many years ago. Elisabetta the owner of Tenuta di Blasig was pretty fascinating as were her wines. The area where Elisabetta makes her wines has a fabulous microclimate. It is considered to be very blessed because it is close to the sea, three kilometers. This is helpful for a variety of reasons. The sea breezes provide air to the grapes when it is too hot and they mitigate the temperature when it is too cold. Additionally, the sea breezes prevent the grapes from absorbing too much humidity and have a drying effect. Her vineyards are on a plateau and are protected from the Bora by the Carso mountain range.The Isonzo section features floodplains with a sand, silt and gravel soil. It tends to be warmer and wetter than other areas of Friuli.

Alvaro from Lis Neris is an amazing winemaker and a friend. He makes a Cabernet Sauvignon not Franc but here is a link to posts I have written about his great winery as well.

Friuli is such a beautiful part of Italy but one that I have explored only partially. I had been to Trieste for a brief visit in the past after having gone to see the beautiful Roman cathedral in Aquileia and the Venetian city of Grado. If memory serves, Trieste was somewhat sad looking to me with numerous bullet pocked walls. Other people love Trieste so I confess that I was there for a short time, on a wet and windy day in November with the Bora blowing strongly.

The Isonzo section features floodplains with a sand, silt and gravel soil. It tends to be warmer and wetter than other areas of Friuli.

While I didn’t make anything for this post, I did sample amazing cheeses and nuts that would have been a perfect pairing for this wine. Particularly Montasio, a cow’s milk cheese made in the Udine province. It is a semi-hard cheese with holes in it. There are three versions, Fresco, Mezzano (Semi-aged), Stagionato (aged). The more aged versions of this cheese are drier. They called the aged version Oro del Tempo. I love that idea.

Montasio PDO product is produced both in Friuli Venezia Giulia: the entire territory of the provinces of Udine, Pordenone, Gorizia and Trieste and in the Veneto, the entire territory of the provinces of Treviso and Belluno and part of the provinces of Venice and Padova. Together with Trentino, Friuli and the Veneto were called the Triveneto, so the similarities in the cheese is not a surprise.

“In 1925 the first dairy school was founded in San Vito al Tagliamento. This school has trained generations of technicians who have spread the art of producing Montasio cheese throughout the surrounding provinces for many years. It was awarded the Protected Designation of Origin status in 1996, ” according to the Agriform website. I received a sample pack of cheeses from Northern Italy from this region yesterday. A real treat.

Join us at 11:00am on Twitter for our chat. Look for the #WinePW hashtag and comment on your favorite Cab Franc wines. My fellow bloggers are writing on this amazing and varied topics. Join the fun.

14 comments

  1. This is an area of Italy that has my interest. It hooked me with they lyrical name Friuli Venezia Giulia…once I figured out how to say it (with the help of a handsome Italian co-worker) I found it rolls of the tongue so beautifully.

    Beautiful map by the way!

  2. Oro del Tempo-I love that! What a brilliant description. My experience with Friuli wines has been more with whites like Ribolla and Malvasia. I would love to try their reds though.

  3. Lauren-
    I always find it interesting to see similar soils and weather and topography and how that influences wines across countries. Thanks for stopping by, Cheers, Susannah

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