The Collio Wine Region: One of the Most Unique White Wine Regions of the World

The wine region of Collio is a curve of bright and sunny hills, slopes and terraces amidst the province of Friuli Venezia Giulia on the border of Slovenia and Italy between the Julian Alps and the Adriatic Sea.

By Lele Gobbi
Dec 01, 2020
tagAlt.Gorizia Countryside Dusk Cover

When we define tradition as knowledge passed from one generation to the next, and the resulting knowledge from successful and failed attempts at innovation, we are with little doubt referring to the products, culinary, and viticultural preparations that have played a fundamental role in the family diet and culinary habits of entire populations. 

Fundamental to understanding currents customs and habits in any given society is the intertwining of innovation and traditions - it can be easy to be led astray as we attempt to understand this fine intermeshing, but it remains nevertheless a fundamental element in grasping significance and history of any particular modern society.  We bring you to the Collio, a picturesque and authentic example of the intermeshing tradition and innovation. This famous territory has developed around Gorizia, and is located between the Soča and the Slovenian border

 

Its position is simply marvellous: a self-contained treasure chest of uncontaminated beauty, a flourishing frame of priceless quiet to visit for one and only reason: to be well.

Geography has placed it on the threshold of the three main ethnic-linguistic realities of the European, Latin, Slavic and Germanic continent.  Today’s unique historical-cultural identities for all three cultures, over the centuries, have given birth to conflict and dialogue, separation and harmonization. Any way you pronounce it, Collio in Italian, Brda in Slovenian, Cuei in Friulian, "in den Ecken" in German, this area is further beautified with pleasant hills reaching up to 270 meters above sea level, extending in the foothills south of the Julian Prealps, west of Gorizia to Cormòns and beyond.

This pocket-sized region is miraculously protected to the north by the mountains, with the south opening up to the beneficial effects of the marine climate.  The soil and terrain of this region is located on flysch substrates, also known as ponca, marly sandstone of Eocene origins. It’s characterized by approximately 1,500 hectares in a crescent-shape of undulating green hills.  Alas, the soil is not very fertile but nevertheless the land is beloved, designed by nature’s effects and the winemakers tending to the soils here. 

 

The hills astonish the eyes with their rolling lands in a succession of green shades of color, suspended in enchantment between heaven and earth. Collio is the natural home of white wines particularly prized by central European admirers, who already in the 18th century held these wines to be luxury commodities.  Their adoration of these wines brought them on a quest to identify the symbol of where the wines were produced:  the sun.  Golden, sweet white wine, full of Mediterannean olfactory sensations - this was the wine that transported its drinkers into environments of pure ecstasy. The Collio landscape physically reflects the coming-together of different nations and cultures, with populations of the Balkan peninsula mingling with people from Central Europe, of the Hapsburgs courts merging with the elegance of Venetian culture, all under the charming umbrella of the Belle Epoque.  

So we can clearly understand how the history of Collio has forged the spirit of its inhabitants, who have continually faced wars and natural disasters, remaining united, defining the features of an extremely solid local and regional identity. 

 

Today, three important personalities of Friulian wine dominate the scene, all united by a beautiful friendship and a deep sense of duty: Valneo Livon (Livon), Roberto Felluga (Russiz Superiore) and Loretto Pali (Castello di Spessa). Engaging with these producers, it’s interesting to note how their peasant culture has developed into an entrepreneurial culture, without ever losing their fundamental roots.  Three different personalities, passionate and welcoming (Valneo), philosopher and innovative (Roberto), intuitive and pragmatic (Loretto), all of whom rise to the daily challenges they encounter. The globalization of markets, models, consumption, tastes standardized by the rules and formulas of industrial production all serve as obstacles and challenges that the producers overcome on a daily basis.

Josko Sirk, the energetic and cultured owner of La Subida Restaurant, a fundamental reference point for local green tourism (via Subida 52, Cormons, Gorizia), as well as an expert vinegar producer and hunter, has welcomed us to his table.  Our get-together developed into a truly unique moment that was much more than just an excellent tasting of food and wine: a lively atmosphere touching upon various moments in the producers’ family histories, both Italian and Slovenian.  These histories of course represent complete meaning for our table of diners. 

 

Our get-together reflected that invaluable sense of freedom, as the great Mario Soldati said, the invaluable sensation of freedom, partial and transient, but not illusory, of change, or even just of being able to change, in the presence of those who reside in every frontier.
 



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