Friuli Grave (or Grave del Friuli) is a DOC covering a large area of land in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, between the Alps and the Adriatic sea. The region’s combination of soil, climate and situation make for excellent wine production with viticulture here dating back to Roman times. Friuli Grave’s strongest reputation is for white wines made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Friulano, all defined by their crisp nature and underlying finesse.
Friuli Grave – like its namesake Graves in Bordeaux – takes its name from the gravelly, alluvial soil that characterizes the zone. The stony, limestone-rich soil originated in the mountains and has been deposited across the plains over the years. The extensive stretch of stones beneath the vines reflects heat and light during the day to help the grapes ripen, as well as acting like a radiator during the night to maintain a constant and even mesoclimate. Drainage is also excellent, mitigating the effects of any heavy rainfall.
The Adriatic sea and the Julian Alps both have an influence on the climate here, especially depending on which is closer. In the northern part of the Friuli Grave viticultural zone, there is a cooler, rainier climate, while the south, closer to the coast, has a warmer, drier climate. The nearby Adriatic Sea tempers the heat of the plains, and the vineyards are also protected from the cold air currents coming from the north by the curve of the foothills of the Alps.
Friuli Grave has a particular affinity for white wines, which are given varietal intensity and aromatic complexity by the particular terroir here. A large range of both international and local grape varieties are covered in the DOC, and Pinot Grigio is king here. Some red wines are also made under the Friuli Grave DOC, mostly from the Bordeaux stalwarts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as from the local red gem Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso.