The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy is one of the smallest, yet most culturally diverse areas in all the country. The compound name Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a characteristic reflection of the region’s history of tangled allegiances and shifting borders.
Occupying the extreme northeast corner of Italy, east of the river Tagliamento with the Alps looming from the north, the region shares borders with the Veneto region, Austria and Slovenia. This is by far the most easily accessible region from outside of Italy and has traditionally acted as a gateway for Germanic and Slavic invaders over the centuries.
Just as it takes cultural and culinary cues from neighboring Austria and Slovenia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia has a particularly diverse wine scene. It is widely agreed that Friulian winemakers set the standards for making white wine in Italy. The experimental era in the seventies and eighties pioneered by Mario Schiopetto gave rise to a highly variable collection of blended white wines usually labeled with i nomi di fantasia (Fanciful names) that have come to be nicknamed “super-whites.” Characterized by complex scents of wildflowers and herbs, kissed with acacia honey, Borgo San Daniele Arbis Blanc is soft and voluminous with smooth, buttery character and a distinct mineral finish.
Yet, it is a mistake to think of Friuli as only a white-wine region. In fact, it is said that Friulian reds often taste light and “green” not ripe and extracted like more famous reds. For lovers of California style reds, most of the blends and varietals from Friuli are an easy segue into the world of Italian reds. Some more ancient varieties of the region are Refosco, Pignolo, and Schioppettino. A Schioppettino, like Traverso’s has a powerful core of spicy black pepper and dark fruit like a Rhône syrah pairing well with hard cheeses and game meats.