Springtime at La Tunella Estate Vineyards in the Colli Orientali del Friuli
Friuli-Venezia-Giulia is Italy
’s easternmost wine region. Within that region, Colli Orientali del Fruili – recognized for its world-class wine status - drapes along the far easterly hillsides, its soils alternating strata of marl (clay and limestone) and sandstone.
Forty years ago, Min Zorzettig made wines in the area from a few wines, and his sons followed in his steps, but it was his daughter-in-law Gabrielle and his grandsons, Massimo and Marco who breathed new life into the business.
Min’s son Livio bought the vineyards that are now la Tunella in the mid-1980s and bottled his first vintage in 1986, when he sadly passed away, leaving his wife and his pre-teen sons to run the small operation. By the turn of the 21st Century, the vineyard size was tripled and the family chose to rename the winery La Tunella (from Livio Zorzettig Wines) to differentiate themselves from their many uncles and cousins’ wineries in the area.
Bordering Austria, it is logical that the white wines of Colli Orientali del Friuli set standards for crisp, lean, clean and refreshing personas. The La Tunella line-up consists of the lauded Tocai Friulano, one of Friuli’s great indigenous white varietals.
Its brilliant straw-yellow-green color gives way to a nectar-fruity nose and almond-mineral charm. SRP $20.
But perhaps it is the “Campo Marzio,” La Tunella’s cuvée of 50% Tocai Friulano and 50% Ribolla Gialla (another indigenous white grape) that shows perfection. This amazing blend shows off its superior fruit (selected grapes of vines from different ages). The combination of its harmonious song of aromatics, creamy mouthfeel and structure make for a sensational duet with food. SRP $35.99
’s native red, the Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, offers up a sweetness at first sip. But its broad, generous quality is awakened by intense vanilla-marshmallow blessed blackberry and spice. We reveled in its juicy freshness. SRP $23.99
The Verve of Verduzzo
La Tunella Verduzzo Friulano 2004 is a late-harvest dessert wine made from 100% Verduzzo Friulano, aged in French barriques. The surprising sherry-like quality steers away from an overly
sugary palate, and instead shows delicate honey and vanilla notes amidst hints of figs, dates and almonds.
Tunella’s 2004 Verduzzo Friulano is a joyous accompaniment to this chocolate dessert at Il Fornaio. Its sherry-like salty quality makes it an enjoyable after-dinner sipper, with or without the addition of sweets. SRP $18
Introducing La Tunella to the U.S.
With sales in Italy at 55%, and the UK and Germany becoming important markets, it is time for the U.S. to enjoy the world-class wines from La Tunella. It should be an exciting challenge for wine professionals to steer customers towards these relatively undiscovered varietals.
from left to right, Il Fornaio Beverly Hills Chef-Partner Gianluca Sarti; Restaurant Mgr Maria Vittoria D’Auria; MassimoZorzettig, Co-Owner & Sales Director La Tunella, and Giampaolo Dorigo, Italian Wine Specialist, The Estates Group, Southern CA