Like father, like daughter. Patrizia Felluga’s father Marco Felluga is the internationally recognized winemaker and owner of two of Italy’s outstanding wineries: Russiz Superiore and Marco Felluga. Following in her father’s footsteps, Felluga founded Zuani Winery in the Collio district of the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in Italy’s northeastern corner.
Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, commonly referred to as Friuli, is arguably Italy’s finest white wine region. There is red wine production, but the cool climate and soil favor white grapes such as friulano, pinot grigio, pinot bianco, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, ribolla gialla and malvasia Istriana. Whether alone or combined, these grapes turn the image of Italian white wine on its head as they yield balanced, long-aging, rich flavored, medium- to full-bodied white wine.
Zuani’s 30-acre vineyard is located in Collio, the best section of Friuli. When she founded Zuani in 2001, Felluga decided to concentrate on four grapes: friulano, pinot grigio, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc. From those grapes, Zuani produces two wines, Zuani Vigne and Zuani Zuani Riserva.
A few months ago, Felluga and her two children, Caterina and Antonio Zanon, presented a selection of their wines at Manhattan’s outstanding OceanaRestaurant.
We began with the 2011 Zuani Vigne and progressed to the 2010, 2009 and 2007. All four grapes are vinified separately and aged in stainless-steel tanks. My overall impression of the vertical tasting was that with each successive wine, the citrus aroma and flavor and acidity of the sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio melded into the softer fruit aromas and flavors of the friulano and chardonnay. I liked the crispness of the 2011 Zuani Vigne, the elegant texture of the 2009, and the mouth-filling fruit and length of the 2007. The Zuani Vigne wines gave a composite picture of Collio’s quality and Felluga’s talent to develop it.
The Zuani Zuani Riserva is also made from the same four grapes but differs in important aspects. The grapes are harvested later and riper, and after fermentation, the wine is aged in French oak barrels for about nine months. The lees (dead yeast cells and microscopic pieces of grape skins) are left in the barrel and stirred regularly, giving the wine greater complexity and body. After bottling, the wine is aged for another year.
These techniques result in a more New World-styled wine. The oak aging is noticeable in the aroma and flavor, and the alcohol is obvious on the palate. The2010 Zuani Zuani Riserva, the current vintage, is for those who like oak-influenced wine. But like the Zuani Vigne, time melds the riserva’s parts. The2008 Zuani Zuani Riserva had the fullness of the younger wine but not its oakiness, but both retained the high alcohol impression on the palate.
The 2009 Zuani Vigne was superb with Oceana’s delicious shrimp and pumpkin risotto, and the 2007 Zuani Vigne and 2008 Zuani Zuani Riserva made good friends to the main dish of roasted Amish Chicken with fingerling potatoes and Swiss chard.
The food pairings and vertical tasting showed why Collio is the source of some of Italy’s best white wines, and that another Felluga entered Friuli’s circle of august wineries.
The 2011 Zuani Vigne retails for about $24; the 2010 Zuani Zuani Riserva for $35.