The wine buzz in Collio, Italy is their Collio Bianco! This iconic white blend is a heavenly offering of the region’s soul. To drink Collio Bianco is to travel to its home. The wines smell like spring evenings perfumed with white flowers! They are as fresh as the cool mornings and as voluptuous as Collio’s warm midday air, seasoned with a touch of salt. Read more about the wine buzz in Collio, Italy
Although I was familiar with the wines, this region was not previously on my travel list. And you know what? It should have been! I was invited along with about 40 other wine professionals, journalists and educators by the Consorzio Collio and IEEM for a six-day immersion – a specially curated experience of the wonderful wines, food and culture of Collio. Wine, food, culture…don’t threaten me with a good time!
Located in the northeast Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collio is situated in the northernmost part of the Province of Gorizia between the Julian Alps and the Adriatic Sea, bordering Slovenia. The historic DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) includes 1500 hectares of visual poetry! Hillside vineyards situated between the Judrio River to the west and the Inzo River to the east. The climate is ideal for grape growing: hot summers, cold rainy winters, warm winds from Adriatic Sea to prevent grapes from getting dry, and looming mountains to the north which protect them from cold winds. The signature soil, known as Ponca, is layered marl and sandstone, contributing the briny and earthy characteristics of the wines.
While strolling the vineyards of Collio, I felt a profound sadness. A mourning for choosing a life lacking the companionship of flowers, vines, and the sea! Their dominance in this place stirs the moment I discounted nature and began to mistrust the presence of bees. In the vineyards of Collio, bees are queens; loved not revered. They fly freely and are honored for their ability to speak for the vines – transcribing to their human caretakers the vine’s condition. The watcher of the vine (a.k.a. the winemaker) has a destiny to assist nature and capture its expression in this beautiful place!
Winemaking practices maintain a strong connection to tradition. The Consorzio Collio is focused on sustainable practices to protect the indigenous grapes of the region: Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla, Friulano, and Picolit. Wines of international varietals are also produced: (whites) Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Müller Thurgau, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer Aromatico. While Collio is best known for their white wines, they also produce reds. Most distinctive is the Collio Rosso, a blend of the red grapes from the region. Other red grapes grown in Collio are: Collio Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Collio Cabernet Sauvignon, and Collio Merlot.
At our first seminar was led by writer and wine expert Richard Baudains, who sampled over 30 Collio Bianco wines! I know it’s a tough job, but I do it for the wine culture. We experienced an assembly of balanced, fresh and stimulating white wines. The flavors fluctuated between tropical fruit, crisp apples, lime, fresh herbs, caramelized pears, sea salt, marmalade, tart citron and back again. What a journey!