Wines of Friuli
Friuli in the extreme northeast of Italy is home to many varietal wines. Pinot grigio may be the best-known. In good vineyards, the warm days and cool nights allow the development of fine aromas and well-balanced sugar and acidity. The better makers will have low yields from steep, well-drained vineyards. A close relative of Pinot noir, the juice of this grape was traditionally allowed prolonged contact with the skins resulting in a wine with a slightly coppery or ramato tinge. This all changed in 1960 when winemakers at Santa Margherita winery experimented with the usual method of winemaking with white grapes by avoiding skin contact altogether. Pinot grigio then took the international wine market by storm. Established in 1878, the award-winning Di Lenardo Vineyards Estate is still a family operation, run today by Massimo Di Lenardo. In making the wine, whole berries are pressed gently and the must is transferred to temperature-controlled steel vats and stays on the lees until bottling. It has a bouquet suggestive of pears and apricots. Medium in body, with an alcohol content of 12.5%, it has a beautiful balance of fruit and acidity and a long finish. The makers say “It is absolutely our best-seller.” With good reason – it is an outstanding Pinot grigio. Ideal with white meat and also with baked or grilled white fish such as swordfish or seabass.