Valeriano Friuli, North East Italy The vineyards are planted over eleven of Bulfon’s sixteen hectares, all are to the North of the vast plain that is the Friuli Grave DOC. It is ironic that these hills, with their unique microclimate (which even supports olive production), hold no official recognition. For the last few years, Bulfon’s wines have been strictly allocated. The last vintage sold out weeks after its release, whereas it was not so long ago that we could choose which vintage we preferred – that luxury is now a distant memory. The success is built on Emilio Bulfon’s absolute devotion to the recovery and revival of ancient indigenous vines from his region. Many vines were found in the original vineyards when the property was purchased in the 60s and, with the invaluable assistance of the wine school of Conegliano, the vines were identified and propagated from. The ‘laboratory’ vineyard was home to hundreds of varieties of vine and, each year, students of the Conegliano Wine School would set demijohns of juice fermenting on any available floor space. These decades of creativity and experimentation have now paid off; the emphasis is now less on experimentation and more on the development of the wines. Exciting times! Historically, different varieties were planted mixed within the vineyards. Bulfon has deconstructed and recreated his vineyards, planting grape types according to the most suitable site. The cellar is immaculate and equipped with modern steel tanks, large oak barrels (4,000ltr) and barriques for the sweet and riserva wines. The quantity of wine produced is modest, the number of different wines is ambitious, but understandable – a wine is made out of each individual variety. All in all, the unique nature of their vineyard is hard to ignore. As well as the mono-varietals, there are two sparkling wines from Sciaglìn, a cuvée of Ucelùt called Blanc de Rugel and a cuvée incorporating most of the red varieties, plus the more ubiquitous Refosco del Peduncolo Rosso, called ‘Pecòl Ròs. The Piculìt Neri has undergone changes, since 2010 it has been aged in 4,000 litre botti (it used to be in steel). The improvements are marked and Bulfon has put a lot of faith in this variety. Ironically for an estate so devoted to their wines, it is the label that draws many people. Designed by Bulfon himself, and inspired by a medieval fresco of the Last Supper in the local church of Santa Maria dei Battuti in Valeriano. The bottles can look similar to each other, but I assure you the wines are not; they are vibrant reflections of ancient grape types but wines with a contemporary appeal.