Friuli-Venezia Giulia is the most northeasterly region of Italy, bordered by Austria on the north, Slovenia to the east, and the Italian Veneto to the west. Given its history as a political and cultural crossroads, it is no wonder that the wines and cuisine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia reflect Italian, Austrian, French and eastern European traditions. The region is best known for its white wines, and specializes in the native Tocai Friulano, a white grape that produces plush dry wines with fruit flavors balanced by minerals and acidity. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignnon Blanc, and Chardonnay area also grown, along with the native grapes Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia and Istriana. Artisanal producers in the region also make white blends, called “super whites,” which are generally distinctive blends of native grapes and Chardonnay. However nearly 40% of Friuli-Venezia Giulia wines are red. Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are grown, along with the native grapes Refosco, Pignolo and Schioppettino, which is also called Ribolla Nera. The region has 46,000 vineyard acres, of which 60% is classified as DOC. There are nine DOCs.
The Merlot grape is such a deep blue that it is named for the blackbird. It’s an early ripening grape and one of the primary varietals used In Bordeaux. Merlot is also grown in the "International style," which is harvested later to bring out more tannins and body.