October is kind of bittersweet for me. I was supposed to go on my wine trip to Italy later this month, but the COVID saw different.
It’s all good though. I actually came to terms with the fact that this trip probably wasn’t going to happen back in March although the trip was postponed until October. Even then, I knew the chances of me going would be slim due to some sort of safety reason. But the shady part is that the conference is still taking place and the main thing keeping me from going is the U.S. travel ban for Europe. I couldn’t even go if I really, really wanted to go. Yet, I digress. Like I said…
Anyways, as you may recall the conference I was supposed to attend was in Trieste, Italy and we were going to be exploring the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region. Back in February or March, I actually came across two bottles of wine from that region that I purchased from my favorite wine bar 13 Celsius. My plan was to save these bottles to review right before my trip. While Italy may have to wait a little bit longer, there is no time like the present to share my two Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine finds.
Before We Get Started…
A quick refresher on the region…
Friuli-Venezia Giulia lies in the top-right corner of Italy, between Austria, Slovenia, the Adriatic Sea, and Veneto (Venice!). Although the region is relatively small compared to the rest of Italy, it ranks among the best for producers of white wines, which you know are my favorite. In fact, 30 different wine varieties are grown across this region. The primary grape variety in this region is Pinot Grigio. Other white varieties that are prevalent in Friuli include the international varieties Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and the native grapes Friulano and Ribolla Gialla.
The two wines that I’m reviewing are both from Vigne del Malina, a family-owned winery in the Friuli region in Italy. They produce environmentally friendly wines without chemical herbicides on a 150-hectare vineyard, where the vines occupy only a small piece of land. According to their website, their values are based on “good wines, clean and very varied, to return to the origins, taste, aroma, structure and above all the particular character that distinguishes each grape variety.” Vigne del Malina is all about making wine that is simple and captures the true essence of the varietal. Vigne del Malina produces three types of wines – white, red, and orange. I was lucky to find one of their white and red wines.
2015 Vigne del Malina Sauvignon
In case you were a little confused, this Sauvignon is actually a Sauvignon Blanc. As I mentioned above, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is known for making great Sauvignon Blancs. The cool climate of Northern Italy is perfect for this varietal. This was my first time trying an Italian Sauvignon Blanc and if I had been blind tasting this wine I probably would’ve pegged it as a New Zealand Sauv Blanc. You could easily call the Italian and New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs the project twins of wine.
Sidenote: For those not familiar with the term “project twins” are when a guy gets two different women pregnant at the same time. Get it? Got it? Good.
In this case, you have the same varietal but produced in different regions with very similar flavor profiles. On the nose, you get strong aromas of peach, passion fruit, and green apple. When you take that first sip, you get an overload of herbaceous notes. In particular, that grassiness that I love so much in New Zealand Sauv Blancs is front and center. This Sauvignon is also rich in citrus and green apple flavors and has a nice acidity that lingers on the finish. I absolutely loved it!
2013 Vigne del Malina Cabernet Franc
Next up, we have an Italian Cabernet Franc AKA “Big Papa.” It’s the parent grape of both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re a Cabernet Sauvignon drinker, know that Cabernet Franc is actually lighter. Italy is the second largest producer of Cabernet Franc. Much of it is made in Friuli-Venezia Giulia but the most famous Italian Cabernet Franc comes from Tuscany.
This Cab Franc has really beautiful aromas…kind of faint, but I got notes of blackberries and black pepper. On the palate, this red is a dry, medium bodied wine with flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and complemented by herbal bell pepper notes. The tannins actually don’t pop out, but they’re there. It has an interesting finish that I can’t quite but my finger on. I wasn’t a huge fan, but then again I’m not a big red wine drinker either. So, if you love red wine definitely give it a try.
Awww, this tasting has me in my feelings. I can’t wait to visit Italy and the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region! They say that wine allows you to travel through the bottle. Just so we’re clear…
But, I’m glad I was able to get a little taste in the interim. Until next time…glasses up!