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The wines of  Zof, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy

Located close to the Slovenian border in North East Italy, the Zof family’s estate was established in its present form by Alberto, and now run by his ambitious son Daniele, an oenology graduate of the Institute at Cividale. Professor Donato Lanati consults here. Altogether the Zofs have 15 hectares of vineyards, a mix of international and indigenous varieties. The vineyards are densely planted and short pruned, with a green harvest in July and yields averaging 45 hl/ha.

These are interesting, high quality wines in a progressive yet traditional mode; I like them very much, with my slight preference being for the whites. Zof also make well regarded Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Grigio and Verduzzo, among others, which I didn’t get a chance to taste here but may well be worth trying if you come across them.

UK agent: Ockse Wines (Richard Cocksedge), 67 Ashburnham Grove, Greenwich, London SE10 8UJ, e-mail rjc@ocksewines.net, Tel: 020 8961 2846. Prices: these wines retail in the £8.50-£9.40 range. Stockists: Theatre of Wine (020 8858 6363) and Jeroboams. They are also available by the case from Ockse Wines.

Tocai Friulano 2001, Colli Orientali del Friuli
Crisp, fresh nose is bright and fruity, with a lemony, herby twist. Lovely density of bright, vivid fruit on the palate. An expressive wine showing good concentration. Very good/excellent

Sonata 2000, Colli Orientali del Friuli
Barrel-fermented Chardonnay with 25% Sauvignon. A deeper coloured white, this shows nice integration of the herby fruit and toasty oak. Very appealing nose leads to a richly textured, savoury palate with nutty oak and good acidity. Lovely stuff. Very good/excellent

Schioppettino 2000, Colli Orientali del Friuli
A late-maturing red grape whose name means ‘little crackler’ because the ripe grapes, once picked, go pop in the mouth. This shows an attractive leafy edge to the bright berry fruit, with nice minerality. Vivid, juicy berry fruit on the palate  with an attractive chalky edge and high acidity. Very good+

Cabernet Franc 1999, Colli Orientali del Friuli
Leafy, chalky edge to the berry fruit on the nose. The savoury, fresh palate displays bright fruit with a spicy, high-acid finish. Attractive stuff. Very good+

Va’Pensiero 1998 VDT Friuli
Zof’s top red is a Bordeaux-like Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Schioppettino blend raised new French oak barrels for 12 months. There’s a sweet chocolatey edge to the nose, which shows a slightly caramel-like character. The palate is dominated by vivid, juicy berry fruit with a nice savoury twist and high acidity. Quite a contrast here between the juiciness and the high acidity. Very good+  

Wines tasted July 2002

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