The word has been out on Italy’s Super Tuscans for some time. And for those of you who have enjoyed a Super Tuscan in the past, you understand the reason behind the hype. Eerily similar to most Italians, Super Tuscans are trendy, inventive and attention-grabbing. But did you know Super Tuscan wines are not the only “super” wine? In the region of Friuli-Venezia Guilia in northeast Italy, winemakers have created a unique and special wine more affectionately known as a “super white”.
For years, winemakers in Friuli have been pushing the boundaries by incorporating both ancient and revolutionary wine-making techniques. Falling more into the former category, Friuli winemakers have taken the tradition of their Austro-Hungarian ancestors by blending 3-5 white varietals together to create their own original white wine blend. Known as field blending, this was common practice for farmers in Eastern Italy for years. Today, this same approach is used although each varietal is planted in an ideal vineyard location to obtain the best fruit possible, and winemakers are more precise with their unique blends. So while it may seem strange to mix sauvignon, riesing, ribolla gialla and chardonnay, these sorts of combinations yield wine with finesse, structure, and complexity and have made Friuli-Venezia Guilia the most important region for white wines in all of Italy.
During a recent get-together with close friends, I tried the Vigne Bianca 2012 from Zuani. This particular super white is a blend of the local grape Friulano, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. The nose showcases fragrant flowers, exotic fruits and citrus. On the palate this wine is bold and juicy with many layers of citrus fruits, white peach, pears and minerals. The finish is clean yet complex, offering glimpses of each grape in this particular super white blend. I would recommend pairing the Zuani Vigne Bianca with fish, a light risotto, or served as an aperitif.
For those of you who have yet to experience the wines from Friuli, I would highly recommend picking up a bottle of Zuani as its distinctive personality highlights how “super” the wines are from this region.
Josh Thielen is a Wine Shop guest blogger, who learned a few things about wine while living in Milan, Italy.