Italy produces some remarkable white wines, especially the white wines produced in the northern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. In fact, Friuli is considered to be the very birthplace of modern Italian white winemaking. This month, I am featuring two delightful white wines from Attems Estate in Friuli: Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.
Friuli Venezia Giulia is Italy’s north-easternmost region. It borders Austria, Slovenia, Veneto and the Adriatic Sea. The region has diverse climates, as it ranges from warm (due to Adriatic Sea breezes) to mild and Alpine. The terrain is equally diverse, composed of mountains, hills and coastal plains. Naturally then, there is a variety of soils. In the central plains, the sand, clay and gravelly soils are fertile, while in the coastal southeast lies the limestone plateau, or Carso, with iron-rich sand and clay soils. In the East, you find sandstone and calcareous marls (ponca), which are well-drained and the most suitable for wine production. Perhaps, this is why the best winegrowing areas of Friuli are found here. Friuli white wine production is characterized by a wide variety of distinctive grapes, high quality standards, a combination of modern and traditional winemaking techniques and a terroir and climate that is remarkably conducive for producers. Attems Estate is one of the amazing producers from this region.
The Attems are an ancient and renowned parliamentary family in Friuli, with history dating back to the Attems Dynasty in 1106. The family is synonymous with not only royalty and tradition, but also with a history of wine in Friuli. In fact, it was Count Douglas Attems who founded the Consorzio dei Vini del Collio (Collio Wine Consortium) in 1964.
The Attems Estate, located in prime territory in Eastern Friuli, benefits from three distinctive features: the three types of soil, the microclimate and temperature fluctuations and the refractive sunlight from the Gulf of Trieste. Attems estate practices green viticulture and biodiversity. They produce both indigeneous grapes such as Ribolla Gialla and Friulano, as well as international varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Merlot.
The Wining Hour Attems Estate Tasting
Attems Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Venezia Giulia IGT (SRP $19)
Attems Sauvignon Blanc is a single varietal made in the province of Gorizia (60 meters above sea level), which consists of well-drained marl and sandstone soils. As we know, this is ideal for wine cultivation. After hand harvesting, they incorporate the German winemaking technique of cold fermentation. The must is fermented in stainless steel vats. Following fermentation, the wine rests for four months on the lees, which contributes to the fine texture and flavor of this Sav Blanc. In the glass, is a lovely pale yellow with flecks of green. The bouquet is intense with aromas of boxwood, guava and grapefruit peel. According to the producer, this vintage benefited from cooler temperatures in late summer, which led to the intense aromas.The palate is similar. The sandstone and marl soil add sapidity. Light, crisp and refreshing, yet elegant, with a persistent finish. Attems Sauvignon Blanc is great as an aperitivo, or with my go-to, fish, seafoods and salads. I tasted with a shrimp, tomato and basil linguine. 12.5% ABV.
Attems Pinot Grigio 2019 Friuli DOC (SRP $20)
First off, Pinot Grigio produced in Friuli demonstrates, in my opinion, the best expressions of the grape and shows the full potential of the variety. This Attems Pinot Grigio is from the same vintage year (2019) and is also produced in the province of Gorizia, so the soils and growing conditions are the same as the Sauv Blanc. After hand harvest, there is soft pressing and then fermentation in stainless steel vats and wooden barriques (10%) for 15 days. Following the fermentation, the wine rests for four months on noble lees. This Pinot Grigio has a straw yellow appearance, with vibrant floral and fruit aromas. The palate is lively and expressive with notes of peach and walnut. Elegant, refined and balanced. Full-bodied. 12.5% ABV. Attems Pinot Grigio would pair well with a variety of dishes including chicken and other grilled meats. I also tasted this with a shrimp, tomato and basil linguine.
Without a doubt, the trifecta of well-drained soils, the microclimate, which promotes the accumulation of sugars, pigments and aromatic substances in the grapes and sunlight, which contributes to the optimal ripening of grapes, Attems Estate in Collio, Friuli is the ideal vineyard site for the production of excellent white wines.
Of note, they farm with little to no intervention and promote biodiversity. Today, Attems is owned by the Frescobaldi family.