Betty's Wine Musings
Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Friuli-Venezia Giulia is Italy’s most northeastern wine region. It shares borders with Austria, Slovenia and Venice and, according to, is “by far the most easily accessible region from outside of Italy and has traditionally acted as a gateway for Germanic and Slavic invaders over the centuries.” Some of her wines originate from Slovenia, and others have historical significance due to their influence in ancient noble circles.

In my first article about Friuli-Venezia Giulia, I talked about the three regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto combined are called Tre Venezie, which means Three Venices. According to Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible, Tre Venezie is known for making “Italy’s most stylish, highest quality white wines, including some of the raciest sparkling wines,…[along with] a slew of fascinating reds.”

In this series on Italian wine regions, I’m highlighting a red and white varietal from each region. Let’s start with the red.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia Wines: Piccola Nera (and Terrano)

I don’t typically highlight wines that are used mostly in blending, but the “little black” Piccola Nera deserves a special mention, as it is such a rare grape. Today, less than 50 acres of this varietal are under cultivation. Most of it is found in the small DOC Carso, near the Slovenian border.

According to, Piccola Nera’s “most common application is in the red blends of Carso with Refosco (known locally as Terrano), to create deeply colored and highly acidic wines with dark fruit and spice flavors.” These wines are meant to be drunk within a year or two.

Terrano itself is an interesting wine as it is only grown on a specific, iron-rich soil in this area of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. This iron, it is said, not only gives Terrano its distinctive flavors, but also causes its early degradation. This explains why it must be drunk within a couple of years. The good news is that it is also supposed to cut fats and aid digestion.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia Wines: Picolit

Our white wine of choice from Friuli-Venezia Giulia is Picolit, noted for its balanced sugar and acids that make it especially suitable as a dessert wine, or apéritif. Sadly, this grape has a very low yield, and almost faced extinction. Due to certain planters’ commitment, however, it is still in production, resulting in expensive dessert wines characterized by stone fruit flavors (peach, apricot) and intense floral aromas.

If you have had the pleasure of trying Terrano-Piccola Nera or Picolit, please share your experience with us here. Grazie!

As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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  1. Whatever WineSearcher might say, Terrano and Refosco are NOT the same grape, in case it is true the names are confused in the local use because Terrano it is part of the family of the Refoscos. In fact in the Carso DOC both Terrano and Refosco typologies are allowed, and distinguished.
    So it is arguable that Piccola Nera is blended with the Refosco in the Carso DOC, because the base of this wine is Terrano (at least 70%), that is not Refosco.
    Kind regards
    Riccardo Margheri

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