by Fred McMillin
for February 25, 1997

A Bright White from Italy

Prologue: The three Pighin brothers, owners of the largest private wine estate in the Friuli district of northeastern Italy, export about 600,000 bottles a year. They are one of the chief architects of Friuli's reputation for lively, fresh dry whites... from "The Slow Food Guide to the Wines of the World."

The Rest of the Story: Julius Caesar may have been the first big name to taste the wines of Friuli (free-oo-lee). We know Caesar sampled the wines of the regions he conquered, and Pliny the Elder praised some of the district's whites. In any case, 2,000 years later quality was in a slump until the 1970's. Then modernization started (cold fermentation to increase fruit flavors, etc.). That's when the Pighins saw the potential and founded their winery (1973)- To check their progress, try their 1995 100% Pinot Grigio (gree-zhee-oh). It has plenty of pungent character... closer to Sauvignon Blanc than Chardonnay. Pliny would be pleased.

1995 Pinot Grigio, Friuli, Italy
Producer—Azienda Agricola Fratelli Pighin
Risano, Udine, Italy
Importer—Kobrand Corp, New York City
Contact—Mary Ann Dancisin, (212)490-9300

Category: Recommended

Postscript: Damn the phylloxera, full speed ahead! Enologist Livio Pighin is growing three acres of vines without grafting onto phylloxera-resistant American rootstock. Last we heard the vines are starting to produce some good wines. Keep your fingers crossed.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

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