Arblaster & Clarke's Caron Fanshawe shares her thoughts on the amazing wines to be found in Friuli
Why visit Friuli on a wine tour?
The wines of North East Italy in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, truly rank alongside the two most prestigious wine regions of Italy, Piemonte and Tuscany. Sadly their wines are not often seen in the UK, which is a great pity for they are amongst the top white wines that Italy produces. We explore these wines from our lovely base in Udine, a little known city full of architectural gems such as the Loggia del Lionello with its Gothic arcades. The region was once part of the Austrian Empire, and the Habsburg legacy can be seen in the thriving café society scene. Our hotel is a converted villa from the 14th century; it is perfectly placed for wandering around this delightful city.
White wine dominates here, with native varieties excelling such as Friulano, which produces lean and dry wines with citrus and stone fruit characters; sparkling wine is made from Ribolla Gialla, and there is also some excellent floral Malvasia. International grape varieties in the form of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are also present. For reds, Cabernet is the favoured grape, but local variety Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso is widely planted.
The food of the region again displays the influence of its Austrian, Hungarian and Slovenian neighbours, with hearty stews and casseroles, goulash and Viennese sausages featuring heavily. San Daniele del Friuli ham is a local speciality. Spices and dried fruit feature in sweet dishes and there are some wonderful cake shops that aren’t to be missed.