Borgo San Daniele
Cividale del Friuli. Photo by Miriadna
During Bravino's Wine Club journey of Italy and it's wines, we must introduce you to Friuli. In the wine world, Friuli is best known for white wines, which are rightfully praised as some of the best. This small, yet mighty region is home to 4 DOCG's and 12 DOC's and a whopping 77% of its wine production is white, which is one of the highest proportions of white wine of any region. But it's no wonder why because they do whites better than anyone else. They're crisp, fresh, fruity and aromatic.
For this shipment we chose two white wines made from the same producer, Borgo San Daniele, because we loved their wines so much it was too hard to choose just one. We chose two wines made from grapes that are native and unique to the area, but also lesser-known and rarely found here in the US: Friulano & Malvasia.
We hope you enjoy discovering a new region, grapes, wines, and Italian recipes to pair alongside!
Photo by Borgo San Daniele
2017 Borgo San Daniele Friulano
Tasting Notes: Medium bodied, very crisp with bright acidity and great minerality. Aromas of wild white flowers, orange peel and lime blossoms. On the palate, wet stones, green fruits like lime and apples and on the finish delicate sweet almonds
Recommended Drink Window: Best now-2020
Temperature of Service: 53-57° F
Decanting: Try to open 30 min ahead of time. Best served "chilled", but not too cold. Usually most refrigerators are 35-40° F, which is too cold for the wine and you won't get any aromas or flavors. So bring it out and let it warm up slightly (to 53-57°) at room temperature. For a fun experiment: Taste the wine when you first bring it out and notice how the smell and taste changes from when it's super cold to slightly less cold.
Friulano grapes. Photo by Fringe Wine
The wine is made from the grape Friulano (pronounced free-ooh-lah-no). Friulano is believed to have originated in the Veneto region and from there traveled to Friuli where it has been cultivated since the 1600's and is nowadays one of the regions most popular white grape.
Up until 2007 Friulano was previously called “Tocai Friulano.” However, the problem was that there is another wine made in Hungary by a similar sounding name, Tokaji. The Hungarians argued that there was danger of people confusing the Italian Tocai Friulano with Tokaji, their legendary golden dessert wine. Despite the similarity in their names, Hungarian Tokaji is not made from the grape Friulano. Nevertheless, Hungary won the battle and banned anyone else from using Tocai, Tokay, Tokaji or anything else similar in the name. So the people of Friuli were then forced to change the name. They decided to shorten the name to Friulano.
Rolling vineyards of Friuli. Photo by: Italian Story Tellers
The region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, usually just called Friuli (pronounced free-ooh-lee), is a powerhouse for white wines. And the style of their wines has much to do with the history of this area. Friuli sits at the northeastern corner of Italy and shares borders with the Veneto region, Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east. It was was once part of the Venetian Republic and it had sections under the influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for some time, which gives the wines noticeable Slavic and Germanic influences like precision, focus and grip.
In the 1960's, winemakers of Friuli pioneered modern techniques for white winemaking by quickly getting juice off the grape skins and taking extra measures to prevent oxidation. Throughout Italy these techniques came to be known as metodo friulano or the "Friuli method." Most Friuli wines are made in varietal form, with most appellations in the region requiring wines to be made with 100% of one grape. The general philosphy of Friuli winemakers is to emphasize the grape's pure fruitiness and acidity without the masking effects of oak. To this extent, the Friulians more closely resemble the Alsatians and winemakers of the Loire Valley than their counterparts in Burgandy, Spain and other parts of Italy.
Isonzo del Friuli. Photo by Noble Wines
The fairly small DOC where the wine is from is called Isonzo del Friuli, located in the far southeastern part of Friuli along the Isonzo river, (hence its name) bordering Slovenia. The vineyard is located close to the town of Cormons, which is famous for having some of the best vineyards of the area. Isonzo del Friuli enjoys a maritime climate with more rainfall than many other areas in the region. The nearby Adriatic is a constant source of warm daytime wind, and from the mountains to the north there are cool night-time breezes. The diurnal temperature variation and good soils create an ideal environment for growing vines and producing high-quality wines.
Entrance to the winery. Photo by Bravino!
We first met Mauro, the owner of Borgo San Daniele, at a wine tasting event that was held right outside of Florence, Italy. When we came to their table and tasted their wines we were instantly blown away. Every single wine we tasted was incredible- Friulano, Malvasia (also included in this shipment), Pinot Grigio, Riesling…wine after wine there wasn't a single one that we didn’t like! We exchanged contacts and quickly became good friends. Mauro invited us for a visit at the winery estate, which they call The Borgo. The property is absolutely beautiful, surrounded on all sides by vineyards and right at the base of the foothills of the Alps. The Borgo is foremost a winery but it’s also an agriturismo, which is an Italian “farm-stay.” They have 3 sets of room accommodations and guests staying there can enjoy their wines, pool, reading rooms, and bikes if they want to go for a ride out into town. The city center of Cormons is only a short 10 minutes away.
Brother & sister, Mauro and Alessandra Mauri, run Borgo San Daniele
Brother and sister, Mauro and Alessandra Mauri, inherited the land from their grandfather in 1990. Passion and enthusiasm have guided them in their winemaking, and they're always spot on. Today, Mauro follows the production from the vineyard to the cellar, while Alessandra takes care of administration and communications. Their love of this land has led them to create a truly unique winery, with a precise production philosophy: a limited number of labels that speak of a viticulture that respects the environment and a personal way of interpreting the native Friulian grape varieties. In fact, in the 18 hectares (44 acres) of land cultivated by Borgo San Daniele, it was decided to adopt the good practices of biodynamics, by selecting the vineyards to be planted among the most suited and by close attention to the location, the orientation and altitude of each. "The earth is inheritance. We have a duty to preserve it", says Mauro: this is the thought of the cellar, which has made over the years to respect the integrity of the soil its main cornerstone. Mauro wants that in the wines you don't feel the hand of man, for the benefit of the terroir. This means that the wines mutate with the passing of the years, but the quality that Borgo San Daniele is able to maintain is always at the highest level.
As a family who has embraced the best practices of biodynamic viticulture, Borgo San Daniele’s style of winemaking includes green harvesting and crop thinning, long fermentation on the lees (dead yeasts), malolactic fermentation and unfiltered bottling. Being biodynamic also means that they do not use any chemical preparations in their vineyards and they must make sustainable choices. Their grapes are always delicately handpicked at the moment of perfect ripeness to preserve that touch of crunchy freshness which is the hallmark of their wines.
Borgo San Daniele Estate. Photo by Bravino!
This Friulano is bright and fresh, perfect for drinking at aperitivo and everyday consumption. But it especially stands out when pairing it with food. A typical pairing with Friulano is prosciutto or salumi (Italian for chacuterie), because the acidity cuts through the fattiness, and the flavors balance each other beautifully. Friuli is home to the famous Prosciutto di San Daniele, which they've been making for centuries.
Friulano's a versatile food wine, and other than antipasti it pairs well with fish/shellfish and poultry.