Fantinel Sant'Helena Friulano 2012
About the Region
Widely considered to produce Italy's best white wines, this wine region in northeastern Italy, abutting Austria and Slovenia, is divided into four zones: Collio, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Isonzo, and Carso. Collio is largely white wine country, employing such varieties as friulano (known as tocai friulano before the 2006 vintage), ribolla gialla, and malvasia istriana, as well such more familiar grapes at chardonnay, pinot grigio, pinot bianco (pinot blanc), and sauvignon blanc (called simply sauvignon here). The wines are typically high in acid, with intense concentrations of varietal fruit. The same varieties are grown in Colli Orientali del Friuli, as is another local grape, verduzzo, and a fragile cultivar called picolit, used for a well-regarded dessert wine. The region also yields a considerable quantity of lean but fruity red wine, with merlot being particularly successful, though there is also cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and a host of regional varieties unknown elsewhere — among them pignolo, schioppettino, tazzelenghe, and refosco dal peduncolo rosso. Isonzo and Carso are less important in the international wine market. Isonzo produces a pleasant sparkling pinot bianco, a range of table wines both dry and semi-sweet from a wide range of regional and imported grapes, and a late-harvest white wine often made from gewürztraminer, though other varieties are also used. Carso, on the Istrian Peninsula, is best-known for red wines made from the indigenous terrano grape and for whites based on malvasia istriana.