|Also called||Sauvignonasse, Friulano, Tocai Friulano, Tokaj, Točaj (more)|
|Notable regions||Chile, Friuli, Slovenian Littoral|
Sauvignon vert (also known as Sauvignonasse & Friulano) is a white wine grape of the species Vitis vinifera. It is widely planted in Chile where it was historically mistaken for Sauvignon blanc. The grape is distinct from the California planting of Muscadelle which is also called Sauvignon vert.
Another synonym of Sauvignon vert is the Italian wine grape (historically) known as Friulano in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Friulano from Friuli-Venezia Giulia was known as “Tocai” Friulano until March 31, 2007 when the European Court of Justice of Luxembourg set the prohibition of using the name “Tocai” in the name of the wine (as stipulated in a 1993 agreement between the European Union and Hungary). Since 2007 Tocai Friulano is merely known as “Friulano” in Friuli and is labeled as such.
The main confusion in Europe of the name Tocai Friulano comes because the Hungarian wine known as Tokaji (Hungarian of Tokaj) which does not have any Tocai Friulano in it all - but instead is comprised typically of the following grapes: Furmint (70%), Hárslevelű (20-25%), and Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (5-10%). Hungary did not want anyone confusing the dry and aromatic Italian Tocai Friulano (which is a unique wine in and of itself) with their special sweet style wine called Tokaji. Some believe that early editions of Tocai Friulano in Italy were most likely made of the grape Furmint. The first record of a “new” Tocai, probably made from Sauvignonasse, is documented only in 1932.
The Pinot grigio vine, which is also prevalent in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, is known by the synonym Tokay d'Alsace in Alsace but there is no connection between Tocai Friulano (Sauvignon vert) and Pinot grigio.
The grape is believed to have originated in the Veneto region and from there traveled to other Italian regions especially to the Friuli region were it was cultivated since 1600. In Italy the grape was historically known as Tocai or Tocai Friulano for centuries. Even though the grape has no known relation any of the grapes used in the Hungarian wine Tokaji, even though evidence suggest that following the wedding of the Venetian princess Aurora Formentini to the Hungarian Count Batthujany in 1632, that some vines of Tocai Friulano was brought with the princess to Hungary. To better distinguish the wines and to protect the Tokaji name, the European Union established regulations prohibiting the use of names too closely associated and easily confused with Tokaji. Winemakers in the Friuli have elected to just refer to the grape as simply Friulano.
The grapes were also planted outside Italy in the Goriška region of Slovenia, especially in the Vipava Valley and Brda and was known as "Tokaj". After the European Union prohibition, the Slovenian wine producer have changed the name of the wine in Sauvignonasse or Zeleni sauvignon (Green Sauvignon).
From Italy the grape is believed to have spread to France where it was transported to Chile as "Sauvignon blanc". Only in the 1990s did ampelographers determine that the Chilean "Sauvignon blanc" was actually Sauvignon vert. Once the discovery was made, plantings of "true" Sauvignon blanc increased as Sauvignon vert (or Sauvignonasse as it known) decreased. While the grape still remains a popular planting in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia, it currently has little presence in other parts of the world.
Confusion with Sauvignon blanc
Unlike Sauvignon gris, which is a clonal mutation of Sauvignon blanc also found in Chile, Sauvignon vert has no known connection with Sauvignon blanc. The vines were believed to be interspersed together in Bordeaux during the 19th century when the cuttings were brought to Chile labeled as just "Sauvignon blanc". The leaves and berry clusters of the Sauvignon vert and Sauvignon blanc are very similar which explains part of the confusion between the two vines. The two vines also have similar susceptibility to Botrytis. The wines made from the two grapes are noticeably different when compared together with Sauvignon blanc being much more aromatic with notes of ripe fruit like gooseberries and black currant that Sauvignon vert lacks in favor of softer, floral flavors. Sauvignon blanc also has more acidity than Sauvignon vert and retains much of its vibrancy and flavors longer.
Viticulture and wine
Sauvignon vert is a late budding vine with high sensitivity downy mildew and oidium. The vine is prone to producing yield which must be controlled in order to make premium quality wine. With Sauvignon vert, the quality of the wine depend greatly on the grapes being harvested at the right point. If picked too early the resulting wine will be dull and lack any varietal character. The grape also has the potential for very high levels of alcohol with 14.5% ABV not being uncommon.
The wine made from Sauvignon vert varies depending on the area it is produced. In the Friuli region, Friuilano wine is typically full bodied with moderate acidity, floral aromas and delicate fruit flavors. In Chile, Sauvignon vert typically starts with aromas of green apples in its youth that fade as it ages and is more medium bodied.
While Sauvignon vert still has some presence in Chile, the grape's most noted home are in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Goriška Brda where it one of the regions most widely planted grape variety. In the Friuli it is the main white grape of the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) zones of Colli Orientali del Friuli, Collio Goriziano, Friuli Grave and Friuli Isonzo where the grape accounts for more than 20% of those areas total vineyard plantings. The grape is believed to be related to the Tocai Italico vine which is planted through the Veneto region. The only doubt involves the Tocai Italico plantings around the town of Breganze which ampelographers believe is a different vine all together. Argentina, with its close ties to Italian viticulture, also has a small amount of Friulano vines planted.
Sauvignonasse, Friulano, Tokaj, Jakot
- Carménère-another Chilean wine grape with a similar story to Sauvignon vert
- "Tocai Friulano: the Story Goes On".
- "Tocai Friulano: la Storia Continua".
- Robinson, Jancis (2001). The World Atlas of Wine. London: Mitchell Beazley. p. 250. ISBN 1-84000-332-4.
- Bastianich, Lynch, Joseph, David (2005). Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy. United States: Clarkson Potter. p. 30. ISBN 1-4000-9774-6.
- Robinson, Jancis (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine. Oxford University Press. p. 612. ISBN 0-19-860990-6.
- J. Robinson Vines, Grapes & Wines pg 240 Mitchell Beazley 1986 ISBN 1-85732-999-6
- C. Fallis, editor The Encyclopedic Atlas of Wine pg 302 Global Book Publishing 2006 ISBN 1-74048-050-3
- Oz Clarke Encyclopedia of Grapes pg 228 Harcourt Books 2001 ISBN 0-15-100714-4
- Oz Clarke Encyclopedia of Grapes pg 267 Harcourt Books 2001 ISBN 0-15-100714-4
- Cal-Italia Tocai Friulano, varietal description