Tocai Friulano, or simply Tocai, was the local Friulian synonym for the white wine grape Sauvignonasse. As a result of a European Union ruling, producers in Friuli can no longer use the term due to potential for confusion with the Hungarian wine Tokaji. Today, producers have adopted the term “Friulano” to refer to these wines.
Sauvignonasse, itself sometimes known as Sauvignon Vert, is a relative of Sauvignon Blanc. Its wines are typically fuller in body than those produced from Sauvignon Blanc, with less pronounced aromatics. At its best, it has high acidity and zippy fruit flavors.
The wine known today as Friulano comes from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy’s northeastern most wine region. Under the name Tocai Friulano, the Sauvignonasse grape has been cultivated here since at least the 1600s. Typically, its wines are pale in color, offer intense floral aromatics, are light in body and have a distinctive green-almond character. The wines are quite dry and are not intended for ageing.
Friulano wine is produced in all of Friuli’s major Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) zones, namely Colli Orientali del Friuli, Collio Goriziano (often known simply as “Collio”), Grave del Friuli and Friuli Isonzo.
Of these zones, Collio DOC is known to produce some of Italy’s best white wines, in which Friulano plays the starring role. Within the Collio DOC, the Capriva di Friuli subzone is particularly highly regarded. The Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC boasts some especially strong subzones of its own, particularly Buttrio, Manzano and Rosazzo.
Outside of Italy, the grape once known as Tocai Friulano is notably grown in Slovenia and Chile. In Slovenia, the grape is now known as Zeleni Sauvignon (meaning “Green Sauvignon”) or Jakot (effectively the word “Tokaji” backwards). The key growing region is Goriška, specifically Goriška Brda and Vipava Valley. Given the high quality of these wines, the region’s proximity to Friuli is not surprising.
In Chile, the Sauvignonasse grape was long mistaken for Sauvignon Blanc. Upon discovery of the difference, many growers uprooted their Sauvignonasse (known locally as Sauvignon Vert) plantings in favor of the more commercially appealing Sauvignon Blanc. Young Chilean Sauvignonasse has distinct flavors of green apple.
Neighboring Argentina also cultivates some Sauvignonasse, and it is a classic though very scarce Bordeaux grape variety.
Tocai Friulano should not be confused with Tokaji wine or the Tokaj region. There is no known connection between this grape and any of those used in Hungarian Tokaji production. Nor should it be confused with the term Tokay d’Alsace, an outdated (and no longer permitted) synonym for Pinot Gris.
Wine Enthusiast Magazine offers a few reviews on top-rated Friulano wines, as well as plenty more information about this grape and others like it. Use our Buying Guide database below to browse!
Cooper Mountain 2021 Tocai Friulano (Willamette Valley)Willamette ValleyThe wine's aromas of nocino and mushroom polenta took me to northern ...See Full Review$30
Preston 2020 White (Dry Creek Valley)SonomaEarthy in stone fruit, cut hay and oak, this is a blend ...See Full Review$36
Bella Luna 2020 Bella Bianca Vista Verde Vineyard White (San Benito)Central CoastTart Meyer lemon aromas meet with an earthy, beach accent on the ...See Full Review$30
Preston 2019 White (Dry Creek Valley)SonomaFrom organically grown and certified grapes, this combines 50% Sauvignon Blanc with ...See Full Review$32
Massican 2020 Annia White (Napa Valley)NapaDan Petroski's perennially delightful blend of 61% Tocai Friulano, 27% Ribolla Gialla ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$30
Prima Materia 2019 Tocai Friulano (Potter Valley)Mendocino CountyA rather deep gold color, tangy fruit aromas and mostly nutty, earthy ...See Full Review$32
Ago 2019 Cor Estate Vineyard Tocai Friulano (Columbia Gorge (WA))Washington OtherThis is a new variety within the state, and what a debut. ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$32
Cooper Mountain 2019 Tocai Friulano (Willamette Valley)Willamette ValleyA relative of Sauvignon Blanc, this unusual grape has lovely floral highlights ...See Full Review$25
Massican 2019 Annia White (Napa Valley)NapaThis is a consistently beautiful and beguiling white wine, a blend of ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$30
Bella Luna 2018 Bella Bianca Vista Verde Vineyard White (San Benito)Central CoastWhat's not to like about a unique blend of 50% Tocai Friulano ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$30
Millbrook 2018 Proprietor's Special Reserve Tocai Friulano (Hudson River Region)New York OtherQuiet aromas of crushed stone, white flowers and green apple peel kick ...See Full Review$21
Massican 2018 Annia White (Napa Valley)NapaMade from 48% Tocai Friulano, 41% Ribolla Gialla and 11% Chardonnay, this ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$30
Prima Materia 2017 Tocai Friulano (Potter Valley)Mendocino CountyHints of rosemary and thyme meet tempting, ripe melon and pear flavors ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$25
Blue Fox Cellars 2015 Nube Bianco Vineyard Tocai Friulano (Potter Valley)Mendocino CountyStrong aromas of fresh earth, buttered popcorn and sauteed veggies vie for ...See Full Review$25
Millbrook 2017 Proprietor's Special Reserve Tocai Friulano (Hudson River Region)New York OtherStony citrus, apple peel, lemongrass and white flowers grace the nose. This ...See Full Review$20
Bella Luna 2017 Bella Bianca White (San Benito County)Central CoastReally taut and tangy on the nose, this blend of 50% Tocai ...See Full Review$30
Massican 2017 Annia White (Napa Valley)NapaThis is a refreshingly stunning blend of 55% Ribolla Gialla, 39% Tocai ...See Full Review$30
Monte Volpe 2015 Sesso White (Mendocino County)Mendocino CountyThis is a crisp, dry, and very tangy wine blended from Tocai ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$18
Millbrook 2016 Proprietor's Special Reserve Tocai Friulano (Hudson River Region)New York OtherWhile earthy on the nose, the palate of this stainless-steel fermented Tocai ...See Full Review$20
Millbrook 2016 Lollipop Hill Estate Bottled Tocai Friulano (Hudson River Region)New York OtherThe Lollipop Hill designation seems rounder and fuller on the palate than ...See Full Review$25
- New York(14)