The sparkling wines of Champagne have been revered by wine drinkers for hundreds of years, and even today they maintain their reputation for excellence of flavor and character, and are consistently associated with quality, decadence, and a cause for celebration. Their unique characteristics are partly due to the careful blending of a small number of selected grape varietals, most commonly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. These grapes, blended in fairly equal quantities, give the wines of Champagne their wonderful flavors and aromas, with the Pinot Noir offering length and backbone, and the Chardonnay varietal giving its acidity and dry, biscuity nature. It isn't unusual to sometimes see Champagne labeled as 'blanc de blanc', meaning it is made using only Chardonnay varietal grapes, or 'blanc de noir', which is made solely with Pinot Noir. 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.