The wines of Venica & Venica, Friuli, Italy

xThese interesting wines from come from Collio in Friuli, northeast Italy, close to the Slovenian border. Venica & Venica appears to be an estate determindly aspiring to greatness in a region known for wines that are crisp and attractive, but rarely of remarkable quality. They are certainly pitching the wines at high price points, and whilst I do have a question mark over the absolute quality/price ratio of these wines, they are undoubtedly fairly profound and serious.

The Venica family have made wine here since 1930, and the vineyards are between 15 and 30 years old. Around 13,000 bottles of are produced annually, and today brothers Gianni and Georgio Venica are in charge of vineyards and winemaking respectively.

Along with the nearby estate of Josko Gravener, Venica & Venica’s wines are certainly blazing a trail for very distinctive Friuli wines.

The wines

Venica & Venica (Italy) Collio Pinot Bianco 2004
The colour is a very pale gold, and the nose offers aromas of ripe, juicy pear, a touch of more perfumed, blossom character, and a crisp, mineral background. On the palate this is terrifically concentrated and rich, with searing levels of green apple and citrus acidity, and a taut, wiry fruit quality that runs through its core. This is a undeniably decisive style of Pinot Bianco, that finishes bone dry but with good length. Very good/very good indeed, but expensive. 88/100. £14.99, Handford, Huntsworthwine, Decvin

Venica & Venica (Italy) Collio Pinot Grigio 2004
From vines planted between 1972 and 1996, this has a less expressive nose than the Pinot Bianco, with subtle floral notes and white fruits, but all very restrained, and meshing with a certain oatmeally, straw like background. On the palate again immense concentration, with an almost painful precision and inflexibility. The orchard fruit flavours broaden slightly in the mouth, but that backbone of mineral and lemon acidity absolutely powers through to a long finish. An extremely impressive level of “seriousness” here, but badly in need of some food to dull that keenest of edges. Very good indeed. 90/100. £14.99, Handford, Huntsworthwine, Decvin

Venica & Venica (Italy) Tre Vignis 2003
A selection of the vintage’s best Tocai, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, 50 per cent of this wine is fermented and aged nine months in oak barrels, and only 4,000 bottles are produced. The colour is a pale to medium gold, and the nose offers a subtly delightful melange of vanilla, honeysuckle, spearmint and fleshy stone fruits. There is a note of almond, and a suggestion of marmalade in the background. On the palate it is decisive and linear in this house’s style, with a plumbline core of crisp, juicy, concentrated white fruit and citrus, but then those little luscious, honeyed and tropical flavours dance around that core, and the gently toasty, custardy supporting oak fills in on the finish. Very intense and long, this again is a real mouthful of a wine that needs food but is extremely complex. Excellent. 92/100. £21.99, Handford, Huntsworthwine, Decvin