Marco & Sandra Sara, with their two boys Pietro & Tobias, are young Colli Orientali del Friuli producers whose family and 7 hectares of vines and 4 hectares of woods are located just north-east of Udine in the commune of Povoletto – a pre-Alps range of hills that separate Friuli from Slovenia. Here, at between 75 – 300 msl, the flysch marne (‘ponca’) and sandstone slopes favour Marco Sara’s white and red indigenous grape varieties Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Picolit, Verduzzo, Schioppettino, Refosco, along with some Cabernet Franc, imbuing the wines with a lower pH, & a spine.
Marco took over the reins of his family cantina in 2000, making the switch from selling off in bulk to bottling the fruit himself. In 2005 the estate became organic; it was also the year when he first bottled sweet wines Picolit and Verduzzo. He makes small quantities of hand-made wine, using organic fruit and wild yeast. These are authentic fine wines that speak of an indigenous grape, that respect and reflect local tradition and territory.
The backdrop to their world is the imposing pre-Alpi Giulia range of mountains that lie to the north of the Colli Orientali del Friuli, & who presence is felt by a cooling breeze throughout the year. Here in their pretty comune of Povoletto, a few kilometres north of Udine, the Colli Orientali are at circa 250m asl, on sedimentary soils of clay & friable ‘ponca’ (marne/flysch), rich in calcite & quartz. It is these ‘ponca’ soils, also found in the much warmer zone of Buttrio e Corno di Rosazzo just to the south, that make the difference in the top sites.
Their 6ha (2ha Friulano, 1.5 Schioppettino & 2.5ha mix of Picolit, Refosco, Peduncolo, Verduzzo & Ribolla Gialla) are all in colline, with Schioppettino occupying the highest, richest in ponca sites, often surrounded by woodland (that also cool the vines below & keep alcohols at modest levels). Indeed Marco & Sandra are constantly at the ricerca, searching to bring out the energetic ponca expression in their wines, especially through Schioppettino; they grow this variety on three different soil types (gravel, clay & ponca/flysch), vinified separately, before blending & bottling 18 mths after the harvest. Marco vinifies at circa 22celsius (for whites), using wild yeasts in both cement & stainless-steel, with 500Litre French tonneaux & 10HL Garbellotto used for affinamento/élévage.
Their Picolit is harvested clean & then undergoes appassimento for 3 months in baskets stored in Marco’s mother’s attic. Then the bunches are sorted, separating the ‘muffato’/botrytized fruit from the still clean, non-botrytized fruit, & vinifying them separately. The ‘muffato’ (‘Mufis’) must is vinified in stainless steel, while the rest is fermented in French tonneaux; blending of the two together takes place during the autumn pre-spring bottling. 2017 comprised 100% muffato/botrytized fruit, while 2018 will be 60% non-muffato, 40% muffato!
Increasingly Marco & Sandra have recognised that three varieties perform best on their unique ponca/flysch, hilly terreno: Friulano, Schioppettino & Picolit!
> Certified organic (CeViq)