Once known as Tocai Friulano signifying its north-eastern Italian status, the extended name of this white wine grape variety was recently abrogated by the European Union and the prefix 'Tocai', rightfully absorbed by its Hungarian patrimony. It is now simply known as Friulano, although some Italians insist that the variety is indeed related to Hungary's Furmint grape and thus, the Tokaj (Tocai) region.
The turbulence of Friulano's recent past extended to Chile where vast plantings were mistakenly identified as the more noble Sauvignon Blanc. Risking commercial viability, many affected producers have yet to replant or label their wines correctly. Chileans call Friulano by the names Sauvignonasse, or Sauvignon Vert, suggesting its altogether more pungent aromas and high acidity.
Friulano is vigorous and late budding, obviating threats of frost to a large extent. The variety fuels the local trattorie of Friuli and its sub-zones of Colli Orientale, Collio, Grave del Friuli and Isonzo, with brisk, herbal and easy drinking white wines that work wonders with the local Prosciutto di San Daniele.
Friulano's plantings have remained relatively stagnant at just over 2,000 hectares for the last decade, usurped by the more resonant and arguably, more complex, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Nevertheless, Friulano renders attractive wines that offer a whiff of almonds and grass, good freshness and eminent pleasure.