Livio Felluga is an iconic Friulian winemaker who has helped to define his region as few others could, helping his part of Italy, in its north-eastern corner, to achieve a standing as one of high-quality wine production.
In so doing he has been an undoubted influence on the improvements in quality of all Italian white wine over recent decades by showing that great whites could be made there amid the plethora of winemakers churning out dull and dilute wines.
For more than 60 years he has shown that Italian white wines, when made from the finest fruit of vines planted in the right place, given assiduous care and attention and harvested at low yields could be a match for the very best.
When Italy entered the war in 1940 Livio was captured during the fighting in Libya and spent several years in a POW camp in Scotland, before returning to a new Italy. On his return he was himself a catalyst for change as he surveyed the post-war viticultural scene and decided that the only sensible way forward was to produce premium wines. He set about accruing the means to purchase his own land and in 1955 bought his first vineyard at Rosazzo south-east of Udine and close to what was then the Yugoslav border, now Slovenia.
His choice was shrewd and today the area is considered one of the finest terroirs in Friuli, though it took him a long time to bring everything up to scratch. A winery at Brazzano followed and over time he acquired 155 hectares of vineyard holdings on the marl and sandstone shales of the area, divided into 300 parcels so that each can be given the individual attention it requires.
Livio is now over 100 years old and his children Maurizio, Elda, Andrea and Filippo are all involved in the business. Andrea is the winemaker now, with Livio on hand for advice and guidance, but the spirit of innovation has not been subdued and the company has been a pioneer in the use of screwcaps in Italy, wanting to preserve the freshness and fruit that they have worked so hard to attain through their work in the vineyards. To that end oak is not used. The grapes are destemmed and undergo a brief maceration before vinification in stainless steel.
The resulting wines are given time on their lees for extra complexity and mouthfeel and then spend two month in bottle before release. The famous labels are an antique map of the area in which the wines are made, a tribute from Livio to the region he has done so much to put on the map.