The Friulano grape has a special place in winemaker Nicola Manferrari’s heart, even though he still thinks of it as Tocai – a name ‘stolen by the European Union’, it is the key grape of the Brazzano area in which he grows his grapes. Friulano poses a conundrum to the winemaker, let it fully ripen and it lacks acidity and feels too soft in the mouth or pick early and miss out on the flavour development. Nicola has spent year’s perfecting the vinification of his Friulano wines which are now considered benchmarks of the variety and region. Much of this work occurs in the vineyard, the reduction of yields and elimination of non-organic fertilisers being just two of the measures. Refreshingly dry, with a slightly bitter note and fantastic, almost saline minerality, this shows great complexity and elegance.
ABOUT THE WINE MAKER
Borgo del Tiglio is located in Cormòns, in the heart of the Friulian Collio region. It is a small artisanal winery based around a home, farm and vineyards; the old-vine Friulano parcel, key to the flagship Ronco della Chiesa wine, is located on the hill just behind the main building. Under the leadership of Nicola Manferrari, Borgo del Tiglio has become a towering presence of excellence and a shining beacon of what is possible in one of Italy’s greatest, but often, most underachieving appellations.
Nicola came to winemaking late, he was working as a pharmacist when he caught the winemaking bug: he would often find himself walking in the regions vineyards and it was here that he found a compelling interest in the subject. After his father passed away in 1981, he inherited five hectares of land with three planted with vines and this provoked him to change his vocation. Over the last three decades, Nicola has produced wines that have grown the reputation of Borgo del Tiglio to astronomical heights in the region and internationally; and set benchmarks as to what is possible, in a region that has over the same period generally produced commercial wines with little personality.
Nicola’s brilliantly constructed wines show a deep understanding of both viticulture and vinification and has resulted in him being recognised as one of Italy’s finest winemakers. Over the years he has worked hard with the star grape Friulano, previously known as Tocai, trying different techniques to get the most complex, mineral and fruit flavours from it. Allowing some oxidation, barrel fermentation, blending with grapes with a higher acid profile, such as Sauvignon Blanc, and picking later have all influenced the wines produced today.