2008 Quealy Senza None Tocai Friulano

If the European Union had acted with such determination to settle the current debt crisis as it did over a decade ago with Hungarian objections banning the use of the name Tocai on Italian wine labels, then Europe and the world could be in a far healthier economic position. Hungary started the imbroglio claiming that there was the danger of confusion with their trademark Tokaji or Tokay dessert wine. Maybe there was some unfinished business from the old Empire days that the Hungarians needed to right, who knows? The European Union's decision gave Hungary the right to the name Tokaji or Tocai or Tokay, the law being enacted since the 2007 vintage.

It wasn't just the good Friulano growing folk from Italy's north east who copped this ban, but also their Alsace winemaking comrades producing Tokay d'Alsace or Tokay Pinot Gris as it became, who faced the same restriction. And as if to underline that we live in a global economy, Australian producers also using the name Tokay for their fortified dessert wines, have had to think creatively about what to rename their luscious bounty. So, if you've never heard of theTopaque, this is its new metamorphosis. Since 2007, Australia agreed to cease using certain terms such as Tokay amongst others in line with trade regulations and settled on the synonym Topaque, supposedly derived from the precious gemstone Topaz.

That's enough of the political and commercial discourse for now, there is a grape to describe and a wine to review. Friulano is an important white grape variety indigenous to Italy's north-eastern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia where it has grown extensively for many centuries. Also known as Sauvigon Vert or Sauvignonasse in neighbouring Slovenia, Friulano has been used in blendings to create the super-whites of that region in Italy. Confusion reigns supreme as to the origins and identity of the grape. Was it an Hungarian import or did it make the journey the other way from local origins? Just to muddy the waters even more, Friulano bears no connection with the French varieties Sauvignon Blanc or Savignin, as its other nomenclatures may allude to.

The nickname Senza Nome, meaning 'without name' or 'nameless' in Italian was given to this 2008 Friulano by its winemaker Kathleen Quealy and appears to be a sarcastic barb directed towards the implications of the aforementioned European decision. Quealy pioneered Pinot Gris to the Australian wine drinking public while she was at the helm of her T'Gallant Winery on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula and deservedly won acclaim for this feat. She hoped to create her own super-white version and was inspired by the grapes grown in the Friulian provinces moderated by the Adriatic Sea climate, which she considered similar to that on the Mornington Peninsula.

Quealy grows a few hectares of Friulano at her Balnarring Vineyard having originally sourced cuttings from a twenty year old vineyard block in Mildura. It is still a rare grape on the Australian scene and Quealy can rightly be referred to as the pioneer of this varietal too. In the glass theSenza Nome is pale yellow straw in colour. Reserved initially, the nose opens up to reveal captivating and fragrant aromas of wildflowers, pear and spicy green apple. Floral, without being overpowering. There wasn't much length to speak of but the texture and mouthfeel more than make up for this. That's the key. A dry, crunchy palate of fruits, herbs and nuts was well balanced, it's as though you are eating a salad of cucumber, dill, fennel and almonds sprinkled lightly with citric acid. Very European! Light to medium bodied, this is an easily enjoyable wine. With sushi, sashimi or indeed any other Japanese dish, Friulano is an ideal match. A great find. 

Source: Winery Purchase. Alcohol: 11.3%. Closure: Screwcap. Rating: 92 Points.

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