COF2011: Day 3, Friends in high places (Amici in Terre Alte)

Terre Alte is one of those archetypical wines that define a place. I remember tasting it for the first time at VinItaly in 1998, with Elda Felluga herself. I immediately developed a crush on both Elda and her Terre Alte…

Made for the first time in 1981, it is a white blend of 3 Varieties: Friulano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon Blanc. There is a category of absolutely first class white blends coming out of Friuli that get way-too-little attention, dubbed “Super-Whites” by myself and Joe Bastianich many years ago. There are a number of these wines made here: Vintage Tunina, Terre Alte, Broy, Braide Alte, Blanc des Rosis, Flors di Uis, Molmatta, Ronco delle Acacie, Breg, Vespa… and for me they represent an attempt to emphasize the character of the Friulian terroir instead of the character of a single grape.

So I was excited when we arrived at the Livio Felluga winery to eat and visit with my friend Matteo Burani, Felluga’s export manager, and taste some old Terre Alte.

“The best wines are blends,” Matteo said as he poured. I agree completely. We were treated to a mag of 1997 and a mag of 1996. The ’96 was the last year that Terre Alte was made completely in Stainless Steel, and was quite possibly the vintage that I fell in love with at VinItaly with Elda back in 1998…

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21759654-2TerreAlte

I found this mag of ’96 slightly advanced with deep golden color, and that nutty, spice-cake sensation that belies a little oxidation. On the palate the wine was sexy and sleek. Full and almost nervous at the same time.. Very long finish of spices…

21764828-P1020722The ’97 was a different animal. This was the first year that 20% of the Friulano was aged in new wood, but you couldn’t tell… The nose had that awesome old white wine petrol/gas thing goin’ on, very muscular, almost tannic on the palate with creaminess and creme brulee and some great nervous energy still backing it up with acid and minerality….

21764709-StealinFellugaThat’s me and Nico makin’ off with a couple mags… both Terre Altes, of course. We retasted them the next morning and they were still magnificent, more open and opulent, but not at all tired or washed out… Truly special Old SuperWhites…

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2 thoughts on “COF2011: Day 3, Friends in high places (Amici in Terre Alte)

  1. you brought me back to that next afternoon, and i cant believe how much those wines changed over night and how blazing each one was. all incredible in their own way

  2. Great stuff, eh Nico? I especially like that we nabbed those mags to re-taste. That was ll your doing, I might add…Great wines, great times… Keep drinkin’ Old White Wine!

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