An orderly region, whose white wines are prized throughout Italy for their precision and fresh fruit, rising to fame in the 1970s with Mario Schiopetto’s revolutionary wines, which arguably laid the foundations for the future of Italian white wines.
The wines are usually named after their varieties and traditionally producers will make many different wines with very similar labels.
The best sub-zones border Slovenia: the Carso, Collio (www.collio.it) and the Colli Orientali, where small producers dominate and their output is an anarchic mix from amphora fermented to ultra-clean reductive winemaking. The Colli Orientali is essentially an extension of the Collio, though the former is in the province of Udine, the latter Gorizia. The rules for Collio are also tighter and insist on the vineyards being on a slope.
The Grave is the largest zone and here Pinot Grigio rules with Prosecco on the huge rise.
There are pockets of extraordinary winemaking in the lesser sub-zones like the Isonzo and Aquileia, but the most interesting zone of all may be towards the hills of Valeriano. These have no official recognition, but have been brought alive through the recovery of ancient vines by Emilio Bulfon.