Limited almost entirely to the foothills of the Southern and Western Alps (it has made it across to the USA but only in tiny quantities), the variety is decidedly less widespread than its close relative, Sauvignon Blanc. However, like its western French cousin, it produces fruity wines with lively acidity and hints of minerality. They are best drunk within a few years of harvest.
In the 1990s and into the early years of the new millennium, Friulano and a few other grape varieties have been embroiled in a legal struggle over the use of the name 'Tokay' and its various permutations. For centuries Friulano has been called Tocai Friulano, but in 1995 the European Court ruled that 'Tokay' should be used only to describe the wines of Tokaj in eastern Hungary.
Although the European Court ruled on the naming restriction back in 1995, the response to this has been slow, particularly in Friuli. Although the use of the name Tocai on labels has technically been illegal since 2007, some wine producers continue to use it, and it seems unlikely that the current generation of Friuli's winemakers will drop the Tocai in conversation. It is helpful that the variety has salvaged the second half of its name, as this means ‘of Friuli’, making it easier to remember which of the several 'Tocai's it is and where the grape is most widely grown.
When the time came to choose an alternative name for the variety, Sauvignon Vert may have been an obvious and easily marketable choice, but neither the Italian nor the Slovenian producers who grow Friulano seemed keen to adopt the French-sounding name. The Slovenian contingent ended up choosing Sauvignonasse.
Synonyms include: Sauvignon Vert, Tocai Friulano, Tai, Sauvignonasse.
Related grape varieties include: Sauvignon Blanc.
Food matches include:
Europe: Ribe v švorju (Slovenian lemon marinated fish)
Africa/Middle East: Shish barak (Lebanese meat dumplings in yoghurt stew)