The Elegant White Wines of Collio, Italy

Friuli-Venezia Giulia's Collio is known for its Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. But the region produces a number of aromatic whites with structure and great complexity.
Photo by Michele Zuliani / Alamy

The structured, elegant wines of Collio prove that Italy can make serious whites. Located in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, Collio’s ideal growing conditions include hillside vineyards with sharp changes in day and night temperatures that generate complexity and depth of aromas. Soil is another key factor: Layers of marl and sandstone—known locally as ponca—impart salinity and a mineral edge to the wines.

Both native and international varieties excel in the area. Friulano is the most widely planted indigenous grape in the denomination. It boasts full-bodied wines with flavors of yellow apple, pear and almond, with some producers fermenting and aging in wood for added complexity.

Ribolla Gialla makes crisp, linear wines that offer yellow flower, stone fruit and citrus sensations. A few producers make more complex Ribolla thanks to extended skin contact.

Malvasia, one of the least planted grapes, makes savory, full-bodied wines with finesse and crisp acidity. These wines typically carry heady tones of pear, golden apple, yellow peach and white pepper.

Pinot Grigio has been cultivated in the area since the mid-19th century and is the most planted grape in the denomination. Many of them have copper highlights, the natural color of the juice after brief contact with the skins during pressing.

The region is also known for its savory Sauvignon. These structured wines carry loads of tomato vine, elderflower and crushed herb tones over a core of ripe peach.

The area’s Pinot Bianco is smooth, rounded and polished. When aged in large barrels, they gain further complexity.

Collio Chardonnays combine body, finesse and drinkability. They’re more structured than options from other parts of northern Italy and more elegant than those from warmer growing areas in the south.

Have fun exploring the diversity of Collio!

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Zuani 2016 Vigne (Collio); $24, 93 points. Enticing scents of field flower, white stone fruit, citrus zest and a whiff of tomato leaf leap from the glass. A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio and Friulano, the savory succulent palate delivers apple, juicy pink grapefruit, white peach and a hint of mineral. Tangy acidity keeps it light on its feet while an almond note wraps up the finish. T. Edward Wines Ltd. Editors’ Choice.

Russiz Superiore 2016 Friulano (Collio); $28, 93 points. Aromas of ripe yellow stone fruit, graphite, grapefruit and hazelnut follow over to the savory medium-bodied palate along with a note of lemon drop. Fresh acidity lends balance while a flinty note lingers on the close. It’s a fantastic expression of Friulano. Dalla Terra Winery Direct.

Muzic 2016 Friulano (Collio); $19, 91 points. Mouthwatering aromas of grilled herb, acacia, ripe yellow stone fruit and hazelnut waft out of the glass. On the round enveloping palate, a honeyed mineral note underscores yellow apple, apricot and almond. A note of unsweetened lemon drop lingers on the close. Wine Emporium.

Schiopetto 2016 Pinot Bianco (Collio); $20, 91 points. Aromas of Granny Smith apple, white grapefruit and white spring flower carry over to the elegant full-bodied palate along with a ginger note. It’s balanced, with bright acidity that lifts the juicy finish. Voliovino.

Venica & Venica 2016 Jesera Pinot Grigio (Collio); 22, 91 points. This fragrant copper-colored wine boasts enticing scents of acacia, Spanish broom, ripe orchard fruit and a whiff of wet stone. The elegantly structured savory palate evokes ripe Rennet apple, white peach and orange drop alongside tangy acidity. Grand Cru Selections. Editors’ Choice.

Gradis’ciutta 2016 Sauvignon (Collio); $24, 91 points. Aromas of citrus, wild herb, crushed tomato leaf and a whiff of tropical fruit lead the nose. On the medium-bodied savory palate, tangy acidity lifts ripe grapefruit, juicy lemon drop and white peach, while a flinty mineral note backs up the finish. Vineyard Brands.

Ronco Blanchis 2016 Particella Chardonnay (Collio); $35, 91 points. Compelling aromas of crushed herb, mature white stone fruit, dried herb and flint set the tone. This is a polished full-bodied white, delivering mature Golden Delicious apple, ripe yellow pear, toast, vanilla and candied lemon zest alongside a mineral vein and a hint of fennel. Fresh acidity keeps it light on its feet. Arte Vino.

Attems 2016 Trebes Ribolla Gialla (Collio); $50, 91 points. Enticing aromas of yellow spring flower, vanilla and orchard fruit lead the way on this elegantly structured white. On the fresh savory palate, a touch of white pepper accents juicy yellow peach, Bartlett pear and tangerine. It finishes on a salty note. Drink through 2021. Vintus LLC.

Borgo del Tiglio 2016 Chardonnay (Collio); $60, 91 points. Pressed wild-flower, toast and citrus-zest aromas meld together along with whiffs of oak-driven spice. The medium-bodied elegant palate offers lemon zest, crushed herb, coconut and mature Golden Delicious apple. Fresh acidity brightens the rich flavors. Grand Cru Selections.

Fruscalzo 2016 Friulano (Collio); $19, 90 points. Hazelnut, honey, Spanish broom and yellow apple aromas carry on to the elegant, structured palate along with a hint of pear and lemon zest. Fresh acidity brightens the rich flavors while bitter almond and a hint of saline linger on the close. Zambuni Wines. Editors’ Choice.

Gradis’ciutta 2016 Ribolla Gialla (Collio); $24, 90 points. Spring wild flower and yellow stone-fruit aromas take center stage on this bright linear white. The savory palate offers mature yellow peach, citrus peel and ripe apple set against fresh acidity. It closes crisp and clean. Vineyard Brands.

Castello di Spessa 2016 Pinot Grigio (Collio); $25, 90 points. After a few swirls of the glass, you’ll find whiffs of dried wild flower, baked apple and toasted almond, while the round full-bodied palate offers mature yellow apple, white peach and candied lemon slice. A vanilla note lingers on the close while just enough fresh acidity brightens the rich flavors. Vias Imports.

Colmello di Grotta 2016 Sauvignon (Collio); $25, 90 points. Tropical fruit, crushed herb, red bell pepper and fragrant white flower are just some of the aromas you’ll find on this expressive white. On the juicy palate, fresh acidity brightens white peach and grapefruit while a note of white pepper lifts the ­finish. Baldocchino Fine Wines.

Primosic 2012 Klin (Collio); $32, 90 points. Aromas of oak-driven spice, toasted nut and mature exotic fruit take shape in the glass. The aromas glide over to the round full-bodied palate along with baked yellow apple, candied orange zest and dried herb. A hint of coffee lingers on the close. GLC Wines.

Livon 2016 Braide Alte (Collio); $50, 90 points. This blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Picolit and Moscato Giallo opens with aromas of toasted oak, orchard fruit and a hint of saffron. The structured balanced palate doles out Fuji apple, dried apricot and a touch of ginger alongside tangy acidity. Enjoy through 2022. Angelini Wine.

Schiopetto 2016 Malvasia (Collio); $30, 89 points. Aromas of sunbaked earth, grilled herb, toasted nut and pressed wild flower lead the nose on this big white. The brawny full-bodied palate offers dried apricot, baked apple and citrus zest alongside a hint of bitter almond. There is also a warmth of alcohol on the close. Soilair Selection.

Livon 2016 Soluna Malvasia (Collio); $35, 88 points. French oak, coconut and citrus-rind aromas follow over to the taut linear palate along with butterscotch, candied lemon drop and a hint of dried apricot. Bright acidity provides support. Angelini Wine.

La Rajade 2016 Ribolla Gialla (Collio); $N/A, 89 points. This offers heady aromas of Spanish broom, lemon drop and yellow stone fruit. Mirroring the nose, the linear palate offers yellow pear and citrus alongside bright acidity. Wine 4 All.

Ca’ Ronesca 2016 Pinot Bianco (Collio); $N/A, 87 points. This has a rather shy nose that eventually reveals aromas suggesting mature apple, citrus blossom and a whiff of toasted nut. The apple note carries over to the round medium-bodied palate along with pear and a hint of beeswax. Firelands.

Published on July 23, 2018
Topics: Wine Ratings
About the Author
Kerin O’Keefe
Italian Editor

Reviews wines from Italy

Italian Editor Kerin O’Keefe reviews all Italian wines for Wine Enthusiast. Previously she wrote regularly on Italian wine for Wine News, World of Fine Wine and Decanter. She is the author of Franco Biondi Santi: The Gentleman of Brunello (2005), Brunello di Montalcino: Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy's Greatest Wines (2012) and Barolo and Barbaresco: The King and Queen of Italian Wine (2014).

Email: kokeefe@wineenthusiast.net.




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