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Tasting Collavini

On a recent zoom tasting with Collavini owner, Luigi Collavini, I was able to taste six of the top selling wines from the Eugenio Collavini collection. Collavini winery is located in Corno di Rosazzo in the Collio DOC appellation, this area is a highly regarded part of Friuli. The winery is near the border with Slovenia is the area where the hillside slopes become steeper and the cooling Bora wind helps maintain the grapes natural acidity. 

Luigi Collavini shared that the mountains were still white with snow and the shimmering sea could be seen below the flatlands. The winery is located 50 kilometers from the mountains and 30 kilometers from the sea so both influence the winery’s terroir. He stated that the cold north winds give the wines freshness and accent the minerality while the warm winds from the south increase the size of the grapes and the volume of wine produced as well as the grapes’ sugar level and, therefore, alcohol content. 

The history of the land begins millions of years ago when the tectonic plates of Europe and Africa came together pushing up the land that would form mountains where a tropical lagoon had previously lain. This created a land that Luigi describes as “perfect for viticulture.” The primary soils are marl and sandstone. The more northern vineyards have a more continental climate surrounded by a pine forest while the more southern vineyards have a mediterranean climate.

The winery’s history starts in Rivignano in 1896 when it was created by founder, Eugenio Collavini, who supplied wine to stores and the noble families of Udine. His son Giovanni then ran the winery through both the first and second World Wars. Manlio Collavini would next take the reins and move the winery to its current location in Corno di Rosazzo and began introducing more modern winemaking. He also was an early innovator in sparkling wine production in the region making a Martinotti method blend of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay and later a sparkling wine made from the native grape, Ribolla Gialla, using the Collavini Method. This production technique uses a long second fermentation in horizontal autoclaves which is then followed by a 12 month period of bottle aging. Over the following years, he would have an additional 11 hectares of Ribolla Gialla planted. Today, Luigi and his brother run the winery together.

The wines:

Il Grigio Spumante NV - This sparkling wine is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Grigio made in the Martinotti method. Luigi described it as “a better Prosecco that was more elegant but still not pretentious”. The blend changes depending on the vintage. It spends six months sur lie or on the yeast followed by three months of bottle aging. In the glass, it was crisp and rich with fresh pear notes. Finger foods, cold cuts, and vegetable veloutes are the recommended pairings.

Ribolla Gialla Spumante Brut 2018 - This wine is made in the family’s own Collavini method  (described above) which is a five year process involving time in a tank that is on its side to give more lees contact for greater freshness. In the glass, it was persistently effervescent with a rich structure, exhibiting a powerful elegance with tiny bubbles and a generous fruit flavor of nectarines and fig, an excellent companion for shellfish. 

T-Friulano DOC Collio 2022 - The T is a nod to the Friulano grape’s former name of Tokai. Luigi called it “a wine with two faces” because of the fresh, orange zest note and it’s slightly tannic, glycerin style, almost waxy feeling in texture. Fresh and citrusy with hints of wildflower and almond, dry, full-bodied, round with a lengthy finish. Serve with fish, asparagus, or prosciutto.

Turian Ribolla Gialla 2020 - Ribolla Gialla was virtually a forgotten grape 55 years ago, farmers found it a difficult grape to grow. The wine was fresh and fragrant with notes of lemon verbena and acacia, the flavor profile suggested a meeting of limoncello and saline, it was citrusy and savory with great depth. Luigi said he prefers it in the wintertime with heartier foods or with flavorful appetizers like fried sardines. 

Broy DOC Collio 2019 - Luigi said this was the most important wine in their line. It is a Collio Bianco blend of Friulano, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. A portion of the Friulano grapes are dried prior to fermentation. It was definitely the most opulent of the whites we tasted. Aged in Burgundian barrels for six months which was suggested in the texture but not the flavor, the wine had notes of mango and peach with good acidity, a generous mouthfeel, and a long fresh, mineral-laced finish. Try it with truffle risotto.

Refosco Pucino DOC Friuli 2021 - This was the only red we tasted, it is produced in a light, lower alcohol, more contemporary style similar to Beaujolais using partial carbonic maceration. Light, fresh, well-balanced with bright red raspberry, licorice, and a slight herbal note in the finish. Drink it with tomato based pasta or fish soups or with roasted turkey or pork. 

On most of the bottles, there are pictures of a dachshund named Ribolla who was Luigi’s father’s dog for 18 years. An authentic touch and a glimpse into the family’s life.

All of the wine are highly recommended.


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