Drinking Friuli Venezia Giulia: Interview with Lorena Tosetto of Petrussa Wines

Italy's reputation for austere red wines, like those from Tuscany and Piedmont, is well marked in the world's wine drinking community, but slightly less famous and equally deserving of your attention is Friuli Venezia Giulia, where white drinkers will find themselves a little slice of dreams come true, and red wine drinkers will find something new to love about Italy. The region is made of 10 DOC and 4 DOCG areas that grow some thirty different grape varieties, very often in small quantities.


Petrussa's vineyards are in Colli Orientali del Friuli. Colli means hills, which is where most of the vines flourish in this region, protected by the Alps to the North and exposed to sea breezes to the South. The region is generally credited for producing the best wine's in FVG and as such, they tend to be a little more expensive, but they also age longer and are much more complex. Petrussa is a small, family run winery that makes high quality wines from varietals either indigenous or well established in the region. Today we're interviewing Lorena Tosetto, who works at the winery with her husband Gianni and his brother Paolo.


Gianni and Paolo, whose grandfather started the vineyards at Petrussa.


Q: How did you end up at the winery?


A: The Petrussa vineyard was started by the grandfather of my husband Gianni and his brother Paolo, it’s a family business.

Q: What is your role?

A: In a small family business, we all wear many hats, but I am generally responsible for international sales and marketing.

Q: Everyone talks about terroir. What makes yours unique?

A: Our region, Friuli has a long standing reputation for white wines, but is also a small, well established, niche area where red wines are prominent. We are in the Colli Orientale between Cividale del Friuli and the village of Prepotto along the Slovenian boarder. Here the broad Udine plain with its hot summer months comes up to the mountains that form the Italian/Slovenian border and creates a cooler summer that is ideal for red grapes. Specifcally, in Prepotto we have a unique microclimate ideally suited for Schioppettino.

Q: What do you do to keep your wines and land healthy?

A: Our vineyards are small and maintained by hand. Our daily presence in the vineyard allows us to nurture each vine with care and attention to ensure their health. We use a dense planting system which forces the plants to compete and limit the fruit production, combined with extensive green harvesting our yield is very small but of exceptional quality. This dense planting also helps control weed development and the roots sustain ideal soil characteristics with minimal intervention.

Q: How many different grape varieties do you work with?

A: We work with 8 primary varietals: Scioppettino, Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Bianco, Verduzzo, Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. Though some are often associated with French production, they have been established in this part of Italy for so long that they have a cultural presence here.


Chardonnay on the vines at Petrussa's vineyards.

Q: Tell us something about your region or area (history, music, art, etc).

A: We are in the eastern Friuli along the Slovenian border. The Austrian Alps are just to our north and continue along the Slovenian border south to Croatia. The broad Udine plain is to our west and to the south is the Adriatic Sea. When the sea is close to the mountains the climate is always diverse, often hot summers wet winters and wind. Here the famous Bora winds race up the Adriatic along the mountains with such velocity that you must keep a constant grip to avoid being blown off your feet. The region is a cultural cross roads, originally part of the Austro-Hungarian empire with early roman roots.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the food of your region.

A: There is just too much to tell. We need hardy food, but yet we have the treasures from the Adriatic. From delicate pasta with the tiny vongole clams to hearty buckwheat noodles and Spaetzle. Plus the more eastern European influences of heavy cream, poppyseeds, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut. Then there are the incredible sausages, cured prosciutto di San Daniele and the smoked Speck. Our region has Italian foods that are unlike any other.


Q: What is your favorite local restaurant?

A: That is truly impossible to say

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: I have twin teenage daughters…..



Petrussa Friulano DOC 2017

Colli Orientali di Friuli, FVG, Italy

$41.18


Friulano is often uniquely high pitched and vibrant, lean, crunchy, dry, herbaceous and often mistaken for Sauvignon Blanc. This sustainably produced wine is no exception. The nose is rich with florals and bee pollen. The palate immediately stimulates your tastebuds and makes your mouth water. It is smooth, viscous and juicy, It has a lengthy finish of lemony brightness. It's great with salads and roasted green vegetables. It's one of the few wines that can stand up to challenging pairings like green beans, artichokes, cabbage and brussels sprouts.


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Petrussa Pinot Bianco Friuli DOC 2017

Colli Orientali di Friuli, FVG, Italy

$41.18


From low yielding vineyards at Prepotto, a stone's throw away from the Slovenian border, this sustainably produced Pinot Bianco offers full and ripe aromas of greengage, kiwi, pear and lime. It has a nutty and silky finish. This wine is best suited to foods with more subtle flavoring. It will match up beautifully with soft cheeses, salads with creamy dressings and flaky fish.


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Petrussa Ribolla Gialla Trevenezie IGT 2017

Colli Orientali di Friuli, FVG, Italy

$41.18


Ribolla Gialla is an ancient white varietal from northern Italy, bordering Slovenia. It is rarely seen anywhere else. This sustainably farmed wine is light in body and offers fruity, floral aromas and bright acidity. It's acidity makes it great with deep fried seafood dishes, lemon caper veal piccata, fresh salads or mussels in a white wine garlic sauce.


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Petrussa Sauvignon Blanc Friuli DOC 2017

Colli Orientali di Friuli, FVG, Italy

$41.18


Fresh and fragrant, this sustainably farmed Sauvignon Blanc pours a straw yellow color with some greenish hues. It is very expressive of its varietal with notes of lime, grapefruit and white peaches that are accented by aromatic herbs. It is fresh and rich with great intensity. Sauvignon Blanc pairs great with herb driven sauces over chick, tofu or fish dishes. It is beautiful against feta or chèvre, or paired with herb driven Asian flavors like Thai or Vietnamese cuisine.


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Petrussa Schioppettino Prepotto DOCG 2016

Colli Orientali di Friuli, FVG, Italy

$64.71


This wine is 100% Schioppettino, sustainably farmed and aged for 18 months in new French barriques. Schioppettino is a dark skinned grape variety that is native to Friuli-Venezia Giulia. This wine pours an intense ruby red and gives off aromas of minerals, small red fruits, sweet spices and dried flowers. The palate is intense and full bodied with fine tannins. This wine is fresh and savory. It can be paired against all types of food, Italian food in particular. Think gamey meat stews with peppers or green herbed roasted chickens.


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Petrussa 'Pensiero' FVG IGT 2017 (375mL)

Colli Orientali di Friuli, FVG, Italy

$58.82


100% Verduzzo, unique to this region, aged for 24 months in French barriques on lees, this passion dessert wine is an elegant after dinner sipper. The grapes are harvested by hand, and a portion will develop botrytis (noble rot), which intensifies the wine's flavors. The wine has a beautiful honeyed sweetness with hints of dried fruit. The sweetness is well balanced by the prominent tannin that is so characteristic of the Verduzzo varietal. Delicious with biscottis, pastries and nutty desserts; try it with baklava and nut roll.


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