Marco Felluga Molamatta Collio Bianco 2017
Collio’s hilly terrain is well known for producing excellent white wines. This single-vineyard Collio Bianco is a blend of three well-established white grape varieties of the area: Friulano, Pinot Bianco, and Ribolla Gialla. The Pinot Bianco is fermented and aged in barrique, giving the wine a bigger body. Golden in color, with aromas of exotic fruit and a hint of honey and vanilla. Rich and creamy, with a lingering finish. Molamatta refers to the vineyard location near and old watermill (mola).
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The Felluga family traces its wine industry lineage to the late 1800s, when Roberto Felluga’s great-great-grandfather Michele started a business buying and selling wines in Istria (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Michele’s son Marco added winemaking to the business, growing grapes and making some wine on the family farm just south of Trieste in what is now southwestern Slovenia. After World War I, Marco’s son Giovanni continued the family wine trade, selling Istrian wine in Trieste and in Grado in southern Friuli. He also opened a cellar in Gradisca d’Isonzo in Collio in 1938, but World War II soon broke out, disrupting life for a decade.
After the war, Istria became part of Soviet-dominated Yugoslavia, the family lost their farm there, and Collio became their home. Two of Giovanni’s seven children ultimately established wineries in the vicinity. Marco Felluga, after graduating from the renowned enology school in Conegliano, worked for his elder brother Livio for a while, before Livio left to open his own winery in Rosazzo. Marco stayed in the walled 15th-century fortress town of Gradisca d’Isonzo and founded his eponymous winery in 1956.
Marco Felluga and Russiz Superiore are now managed by Marco's son Roberto Felluga, with Roberto's daughter Ilaria studying enology and perhaps to follow in the family business as the sixth generation. The vineyards are located in four different parts of Collio, Farra d'Isonzo, San Floriano del Collio, Oslavia, and Cormòns, which allows for strategic grape selection for the numerous wines produced. Three-quarters of the winery's production is white wines, made from both international and local grape varieties. The Marco Felluga line of white wines are kept mostly in stainless steel to ensure freshness but are also left on the lees to add richness and complexity. They are designed to improve with age for several years and are considered an incredible value given their pedigree and quality. They also make red wines from Merlot and the indigenous variety Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso.
Collio is a crescent-shaped sub region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia that hugs right up against the Slovenian border. It is perfectly situated for growing wine grapes, especially of the white variety.
The Julian Alps to Collio’s north allow the influx of cool, nighttime breezes, while the Adriatic Sea to its south regulates the region’s temperatures. The area contains flysch soils,locally known as, ponca, a layered, sedimentary rock that formed millions of years ago as continents collided under the sea. Today the flysch soils that dominate the hills of Collio provide an interesting substrate for vine roots, with measurable mineral variations within small areas. The fractured layers of flysch soils also facilitate drainage and deepening of vine roots.
The region boasts a unique set of indigenous white varieties including Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia and the rare, Picolit. International whites—Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon (Blanc) and Chardonnay—have also been in the area for well over 100 years. Today Collio is often associated with crisp, clean, floral and fruity whites. But in recent years, there has been a resurgence in popularity of the ancient Slovenian style of fermenting white grapes on their skins. This process retains additonal colors and phenols, producing a complex finished wine with an orange hue, warranting the term, "orange wines."
Reds are far less common but the indigenous Pignolo makes an age-worthy red, and the international varieties Merlot and Cabernet grow here as well.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended white wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used in white wine blends, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied white wine blend, like Chardonnay, would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.