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Collio wine region - small but mighty
As Italy went crashing out of the World Cup last month, a tiny wine-producing area in the north-east of the country was celebrating its brand's 50th anniversary and embarking on phase two for global recognition.
Comprising just 1500 farmed hectares of land* and measuring a modest 26km from west to east and 4.5km from north to south, Collio may be geographically small but it is, nevertheless, a mighty force to be reckoned within the world of wine thanks to its location, climate, soil and passionate producers.
A fine foundation
Ask any wine producer in Collio why the region is so spectacularly well suited to growing vines and, without fail, each and every one of them will come up with a list almost as long as your arm. So even before the first drop of Collio DOC wine has passed your lips, you suspect that you will be in for a treat.
More than 100 million years ago, water erosion gave rise to the soil of the Collio, the 'Flysch'. This land, comprising stratified marl and sandstone of Eocene origin, provides particularly good nourishment for the vines due to the rich biodiversity of the Flysch's micro-organisms. “This is what gives the Collio wines their characteristic imprint of minerality, salinity and elegance,” explains Robert Princic, president of the Collio Wine Consortium that was established in 1964 both to unite the region’s growers and promote their extraordinary wares to the world outside Collio.
Just a two-hour drive from Venice, the breathtakingly beautiful hilltop area that is Collio enjoys perfect weather conditions for growing and nurturing vines.
Bordering Slovenia to the east and situated between the Jujlian Alps to the north and the Adriatic Sea to the south, Collio’s location affords it protection from the cold northern winds (courtesy of the Alps) while the Adriatic mitigates extreme heat and even provides warm currents of air to ensure that humidity levels remain optimum.
In addition, with 1000-1600mm of rainfall each year, Collio happily claims the title of ‘wettest region in Italy’ with the vast majority of the rain fortuitously falling between April and October when the vines need it most.
World's Best Sauvignon
While all wine producers in Collio are, justifiably, proud of their achievements, Roberto Snidareig at the Tiare vineyard walks particularly tall for, in March this year, his Sauvignon was declared 'Best Sauvignon in the World' at the Bordeaux Wine Fair.
This is the first time that the accolade has been awarded to a wine that is not French, so the smile on Roberto's face is broad and wide. Roberto believes that the fundamental secret to his phenomenal success is that - unlike many of his fellow Collio producers whose vineyards cover the region's hillsides - his vines grow in the plains at just 75m above sea level. "Here in the Collio we are particularly proud of our Sauvignons, so to be recognised as the best in the world is a wonderful honour," says a modest Roberto.
Together with his wife, Roberto runs a small restaurant at Tiare (www.tiaredoc.com) where much of the food is sourced from the couple's extensive kitchen garden and visitors can enjoy the Collio's eclectic local cuisine while sipping the ultimate Sauvignon in the very vineyard that grew the grapes. Top that!
Essentially Catering, August issue
To learn more about the magical Collio - its diverse landscape, rich heritage and expert wine producers - read the August issue of Essentially Catering at www.essentiallycatering.co.uk. Available from Wednesday 30 July.
* 1 hectare is 100m x 100m
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