Can’t touch this….La Tunella Friulano

what's in the box?

Don’tcha just hate when you go away on holiday discover this great wine and then when you get back home, find out that it’s not available in your home county? Well, now you know how I feel after a recent tasting I had with Giovanna Borreri of La Tunella and  their importer Corney&Barrow at Tsuru sushi in Bishopsgate.

La Tunella rocks in the box

La Tunella was the name and white wines were primarily the game that afternoon. La Tunella is a family owned winery situated in the north of Italy, Colli Orientali del Friuli to be exact. Friuli is known for the exceptionally mineral laden and elegant white wines they produce. The region is divided into 8 D.O.C.’s with a very distinct terroir of sandstone and marl and a favourable and unique microclimate which shields the grapes from the Alpine winds coming down from the north while still allowing the warm breezes of the Adriatic to waft up and warm the grapes. La Tunella take their terroir seriously and even brought along a small box of the flat rocks that make up the terrain. La Tunella really does rock!

We got down to tasting and matching the wines with the sushi and curry. The 2008 pinot grigio while at first, a good specimen of what pinot grigio should be, really woke up in the mouth when combined with the sushi. It was a great food wine,crunchy minerality and balance of fruit with an bright lemon-lime finish. All too often pinot grigio is an insipid, pallid, glass of lemon water but here was a pinot grigio that was worth the £10 asking price.

The 2008 Friulano however, was the wine that we all raved about. Friulano used to be called Tokay Friulano but the Hungarians took issue with the use of the word tokay and in 2007, the Italians were forced to drop the tokay part of the name. No matter, it is still a fantastic wine and Friulano refers not only to the grape but also the land and the people. An elegant, creamy wine bursting with a floral notes and a stoney minerality. I compared it to having a mouthful of rocks, but in a good way, like licking a rock you’d just picked up out of a river stream. It reminded me of family summer vacations in the mountains I took as a child. There was some pear fruit in there but it definitely took a back seat to the rocks and it all ended on a pleasing bitter almond note. Just a fantastic wine and extremely versatile. It was a great companion to all the food that Tsuru could throw at it, from the sushi to the teriyaki – definitely a winner.

Just one tiny problem. The producer had brought it along as a sample only. This wine is not available in the UK. And why not?!?! Seems people don’t know Friulano and so instead stick to safe and predictable pinot grigio. What a crying shame! You can find it here if you look hard enough but it’s nowhere near as ubiquitous as pinot grigio and at roughly the same price (£9.49) as good quality pinot grigio, it should be.

I’m thinking of starting a one-woman campaign to get more Friulano here in the UK. It really is delicious….


  1. Well, now that we have an official Ambassador for the Friulano we’ll think about importing it… I’ll have a word with our buyers. How many cases can you drink?! 🙂


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