This zone is located in the province of Udine, running north-south and bordering Slovenia to the east. This is the old border of Friuli with the Austrian empire. COF is divided into three areas; Ramandolo to the noth, Cialla and Corno di Rosazzo. Different grapes flourish in these different areas. Ramandolo is cooler, and has the most rainfall, one will find the Verduzzo grape here. In the east, Cialla is where many of the native Friulian grapes are found: Ribolla Gialla, Refosco, Verduzzo, Schioppettino and Picolit. Picolit, Pignolo and Ribolla Gialla are found in the Rosazzo hills to the south. Indigenous grape varieties include Malvasia, Picolit, Pignolo, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Ribolla Gialla, Schioppettino, Tazzelenghe, Tocai Friuliano and Verduzzo. More recently, traditional European varieties such as Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon have also made a strong appearance.
The Celts probably first introduced grape cultivation to this area, and the documented history of wine from Friuli dates back over 2000 years, when the Romans established their first colony in the Aquileia countryside. There have been times in which the cultivation of grapes and flourished, and other times faded, but through 20 centuries wine making has been a tradition in this region.
In the 1970s, the whites of this region began to receive international attention. Today, the white production of the COF is dominated by the Friuliano grape, with almost a third of the production this one varietal. Other varieties common to this area include Verduzzo, Pinot Bianco, Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.
In the 1980s, producers in the region turned some of their attention to reds, mimicking the “Super Tuscan” model found to the south. These were sold under the vino da tavola designation. Today, red wines account for around 35% of the area’s entire production. Merlot is the leading variety, followed by Refosco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noisr, and Schioppettino.
DOCs and DOCGs
There are three DOCG regions in the COF:
Ramondolo: Ramandolo is the first “cru” in Friuli, carved out of the larger Colli Orientali del Friuli. It is located in Nimis, and produces a white dessert wine made from the Verduzzo grape.
Colli del Friuli Picolit: The DOCG encompasses most of the region, representing the classic sweet passito wines the region is known for. Made from the ancient Picolit grapes, to produce a semi-sweet or sweet dessert wine.
Colli del Friuli Picolit-Cialla: Centered around the commune of Cialla, a hill community famous for its vineyards. Also producing the sweet Picolit wines.
Also we will discover three DOC regions:
Colli del Friuli DOC: This DOC covers twenty types of wines, 17 of which are varietals. Includes Picolit, Cabernet (Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Malvasia, Merlot, Pinot Bianco, Pignolo, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Nero, Refosco dal Peducolo Rosso, Ribolla, Riesling Renano, Sauvignon Blanc, Schioppettino, Tocai Friuliano, Traminer Aromatico (Gerwurztraminer), and Verduzzo. All the varietal wines must use at a minimum 90% of the varietal named.
Colli Orientali del Friuli Cialla DOC: Dry white wines, with some sweet and less dry whites from Verduzzo and Picolit. Reds include a Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Schioppettino.
Colli Orientali del Friuli Rosazzo DOC: One finds many vineyards of Ribolla Gialla here, which is believed to have been originated here over 1000 years ago in the vineyard of the local abbey. Sweet Picolit and dry Pignolo wines are also produced in this DOC.