One night during our stay in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, our host at Borgo Floreano prepared a wonderful wine-pairing dinner for us, and a few days later arranged a visit to the winery where he had obtained the wines we enjoyed the most: Guerra Albano (website), in the Colli Orientali de Friuli (the eastern hills of Friuli). Finding the winery wasn’t easy — it was tucked away along an unremarkable street in the small town of Montina, outside Cividale del Friuli — but was definitely worth the effort to find it. The winemaker not only greeted us, gave us a tour and led us through a tasting of several of his wines, he also provided lovely bites of home-cooked food to pair with each one! We enjoyed them all, and came away with a case of wine (and no idea how to get it home — we ended up buying a suitcase and wrapping the bottles in our dirty clothes). The frustration of Guerra Albano is that while the winemaker has a New York distributor, the wine is unavailable on the West Coast, so the stash we brought home was all the Guerra Albano we’ve been able to enjoy. We have cherished each bottle of Guerra Albano that made it back in our luggage, but haven’t yet found equivalent wines available for sale here.
While Friuli is so far north that its white wines are better known, we were delighted to discover a wonderful red varietal, Refosco dal pedunculo rosso (pedunculo rosso means “red stems”), that can stand up easily to beef or game. The Guerra Albano version is smooth and complex, with hints of blueberry, vanilla, coffee, a good balance of tannins, and a long finish. It is plenty hefty to work with rich, big flavors, but not harsh or high-alcohol. A true find — but, as we said, frustrating. When we find a good Refosco locally, we’ll let you know. Meantime, our memories of the Guerra Albano wines and our visit to the winery remind us of the wonderful discoveries we made in gentle, picturesque Friuli.