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Livio Felluga Tocai Fruiliano 2003
Fragrance: sweet and broad, with notes of yellow-fleshed fruit and a marked varietal aroma of almond, walnut laced with medicinal herbs and spices
Taste: a powerful, warm, well-structured wine with balanced acidity and harmonious fruit and spice complexity; the characteristic after-aroma of almonds is very persistent.
Friuli's traditional aperitif, Tocai Friulano partners air-cured prosciutto crudo, salami and sausages of all kinds; an attractive wine to match with fish and fresh or fatty cheeses.
The 500-acre Livio Felluga Estate includes 370 acres of rolling hillside vineyards in the Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli. Friuli's temperate climate, protected by the Alps to the north and moderated by the Adriatic Sea to the south is a winemaker's dream. The sparse soil of marl and calcareous deposits is ideal for the white varieties, and also for their complex red wines.
Felluga does not believe in undistinguished, homogenous wine styles, but rather focuses on subtle, elegant expressions of wines made from grapes which have been grown in Friuli for centuries. Balance and clarity are the hallmarks of these wines, with minimum influence from oak and maximum freshness.
The source of some of Italy’s best and most distinctive white wines, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is where Italian, Germanic and Slavic cultures converge. The styles of wines produced in this region of Italy's far north-east reflect this merging of cultures. Often shortened to just “Friuli,” the area is divided into many distinct subzones, including Friuli Grave, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Collio Goriziano and Carso. The flat valley of Friuli Grave is responsible for a large proportion of the region’s wine production, particularly the approachable Pinot grigio and the popular Prosecco. The best vineyard locations are often on hillsides, as in Colli Orientali del Friuli or Collio. In general, Friuli boasts an ideal climate for viticulture, with warm sunny days and chilly nights, which allow grapes to ripen slowly and evenly.
In Colli Orientali, the specialty is crisp, flavorful white wine made from indigenous varieities like Friulano (formerly known as Tocai Friulano), Ribolla gialla and Malvasia Istriana.
Red wines, though far less common here, can be quite good, especially when made from the deeply colored, rustic Refosco variety. In Collio Goriziano, which abutts Slovenia, many of the same varieties are planted. International varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc are also common, but they tend to be Loire-like in style with herbaceous character and mellow tannins. Carso’s star grape is the red Teranno, notable for being rich in iron content and historically consumed for health purposes. It has an earthy, meaty profile and is often confused with the distinct variety Refosco.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.