Collio, a small subregion of Friuli in the far northeast of Italy, is not far from the Alps to the north and the Adriatic Sea to the south — geography that contributes to its renown for producing complex, aromatic white wines.
The most prominent grapes are Friulano and Pinot Grigio, but Sauvignon Blanc is also an important player. The 2021 Collio Sauvignon from Russiz Superiore shows the dimension the region can produce in the variety.
The wine has a great balance of fruit, herbs, and minerals — less racy and “grassy” than Sauvignon from New Zealand and more like some of those from France’s Loire Valley. Flavors of green apple, apricot, and lemon-lime are accented by touches of flinty minerality and herbs like sage and thyme.
There’s a bit of creamy softness on the long finish, a reflection of aging on the lees and a small percentage of the grapes fermented in oak barrels. Aging takes place in stainless steel tanks.
At about $27 or so, it’s more expensive than many of the countless Sauvignons you’ll find from just about every corner of the wine world. But the price is offset by the fact that this is a singular Sauvignon Blanc that’s among the world’s best.
It’s also a highly versatile wine that can be enjoyed with lots of simple fish and shellfish dishes, roast chicken, and vegetable-based risottos and pastas.
The Russiz Superiore winery is owned by Roberto Felluga, who also owns the Marco Felluga winery, also in Collio and named after his father, a legendary wine figure whose fame spread well beyond Italy.
The 2016 Collio Sauvignon Riserva took the No. 3 spot on VinePair’s 50 Best Wines of 2022 (see the review here), and the 2018 vintage of the Collio Sauvignon was featured in VinePair’s Best Sauvignon Blancs of 2020.