A grape varietal which certainly requires no introduction, Cabernet Sauvignon is not only the principal component of the great Bordeaux wines, but also reigns as the grape varietal most widely known for putting the U.S. on the wine making map. It is grown prolifically throughout America, perhaps at its best in Napa, Sonoma and Washington. Even though in this country we see many 100% varietally based wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is usually blended to add complexity and to round out the often tough-to-handle tannins which are characteristic of this wine. It should be full-bodied, rich, firmly structures and powerful. It is reserved in the bouquet, yet the tell-tale black currant, dark berry, cedar and vanilla (from oak barrels) often show themselves. When grown in a cool climate, it can smell of green pepper or olives, but beware of unripe fruit that can be weedy or even vegetal. Some of its popular grape blending companions include Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is an important Italian wine region, situated high in the northernmost parts of the country, and close to the Slovenian and Austrian borders. As such, there is a considerable Germanic influence on the wines of this region, with varietals such as Riesling growing alongside Italian classics such as Pinot Grigio. The finest wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia are considered to be those which capture the alpine essence of the region, with its pine scented terroirs and crystal mountain waters which run down from the mountains. There are also several interesting lesser known grape varietals processed in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which gives the region a unique wine culture which the local wine makers are immensely proud of, and which makes the region a fascinating one to explore. The second of the Tre Venezie, Friuli, borders on Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east. Although Italy is known in the wine world for its red wines, the white wines of Friuli are responsible for this region's reknown. The best wines are from a series of hillsides called colli: Colli Orientali del Friuli (east), Colli Grave del Friuli (west) and Colli Gorziana (Gorzia hills). Wonderful whites include Pinot Grigio,Pinot Bianco Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer. Friuli also produces lighter-styled red wines from Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.