La Tunella’s exceptional, stylish wines come from the Colli Orientali del Friuli region in north-east Italy, near the Slovenian border. Small, family-owned La Tunella has come a long way since farmer Min Zorzettig started making wine in the 1960s. Today, grandsons Massimo and Marco run the winery and La Tunella boasts an impressive range of delicious wines from international grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio as well as rare, indigenous varieties like the spicy Friulano. Grown on vertiginous sun-trap terraces in the eastern Friuli hills, the hand-tended vines produce only the tiniest quantity of grapes. The soils here, a mix of marl and sandstone called ponca, are unique to the area, and held to be key to the expressive yet delicate flavours and textural purity of La Tunella’s wines. La Tunella is exclusive to Corney & Barrow in the UK.
La Tunella grows international grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio as well as a number of grapes indigenous to the Friuli region such as Friulano, Ribolla Gialla and Schioppettino. Corney & Barrow currently stocks three white wines and two red wines from La Tunella. There is a particular refrain to La Tunella’s wines, all of which exhibit bright yet subtle fruit flavours with an almost indefinable purity and creaminess on the palate, rich yet somehow incredibly light. La Tunella’s wines all have something special and different to offer.
La Tunella Sauvignon shows fresh-cut grass and fine herb aromas, clean textures and understated varietal flavours, Friuli’s answer to French Sancerre perhaps? Pinot Grigio reaches a whole new level at La Tunella: its low yielded, ultra-ripe grapes are the key to this wine’s creamy textures, restrained peachy flavour and minerality. The Pinot Bianco, favourite of La Tunella’s oenologist Luigino Zamparo, shows a delicate lemon-cream character developing spicier, honeyed notes with age.
La Tunella’s red wines are no less impressive. The Pinot Nero (the same grape as France’s Pinot Noir) shows pretty, fresh strawberry aromas and flavours, exceptionally expressive of this grape, thanks to La Tunella’s clever winemaking techniques, and will develop subtle leather and tobacco notes with age. Cabernet Franc is rarely grown outside its native France, but La Tunella’s example exhibits all its leafy freshness, together with spicy, toasty characters from maturation in old oak barrels.
La Tunella winery – the people
La Tunella is a tale of three generations. In the 1960s Min Zorzettig, a tenant farmer, tended his small, family vineyards, producing wines for family consumption. This tradition was continued by his son Livio, and is alive today in the hands of his sons Massimo and Marco, who run La Tunella with the help of their mother Gabriella. La Tunella’s wines are made by close family friend Luigino Zamparo, a talented oenologist, whose wife Giovanna is responsible for sales and marketing and often comes to visit us at Corney & Barrow!
La Tunella winery – the place
Wines have been made in Friuli for centuries. This region, officially named Friuli-Venezia-Giulia is located in the very far north-eastern corner of Italy, within a triangle formed by Venice to the west, Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east. The Colli Orientali del Friuli (which means Friuli’s eastern hills), is a high-quality winemaking area, enjoying official DOC status within Italy’s wine quality hierarchy (DOC stands for Denominazione dell’Origine Controllata , similar to France’s AOC Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée , relating to products of a designated area and subject to strict rules of production).
La Tunella’s seventy hectares of vines enjoy a favourable microclimate, protected from harsh northerly winds by the Giulian Alps and tempered by warm breezes from the Adriatic sea only a few kilometres to the south. Its terraced vineyards help maximise the ripening process during the day, while cool night-time temperatures in the hills give the vines a chance to rest, thereby helping to preserve delicate flavours.
La Tunella’s vineyard soils are another key to the quality and limpid purity of its wines. Dark grey in colour, these poor, minerally soils are a combination of calcium-rich marl and sandstone known in Friulan dialect as ponca and unique to the area.
La Tunella winery – winemaking philosophy
La Tunella’s philosophy is all about quality, from the vine to the bottle. In the vineyard, meticulous attention to detail, canopy control, limited yields and hand harvesting are all key to quality. In recent years La Tunella has built a new winery, a fantastic investment in the long-term quality and future of its wines. Small yet brilliantly conceived to maximise quality via minimal handling, this new winery at La Tunella boasts the latest in spanking new winemaking equipment, together with barrels of different shapes, sizes, age and origin. This perfect fusion melding the best of tradition with the ultra-modern is perhaps the key to La Tunella’s philosophy, quality and focus.