Guerra Albano

Friuli-Venezia Giulia - Italy

The Winery

When asked about his approach to winemaking, Dario Guerra just smiles and offers, “we are students of the leaves.” Getting to know him, one begins to realize this is an entire way of life for his family and far from hyperbole. Working up to 15 hours a day in the field, the Guerra’s are in a near-constant state of green harvest, sculpting individual plants all season long so that (no matter what the weather does in a particular vintage) they effectively have every exposition to choose from. “Wine is made in the vineyard, not the cellar,” adds Dario, who believes what happens post-harvest should only have a 10% influence on the final result. For this reason, Guerra Albano also uses a soft, peristaltic pump - with the added benefit of producing less astringent wines with more integrated tannins. “He’s a totally unique winemaker,” marvels our Italian partner, Antonio Sanguineti. “Dario is just nature and mathematics.”

Like the lion’s share of small estates across Europe, Guerra Albano farms their grapes organically, but remains non-certified. A key part of this equation for Dario (and countless others across France and Italy) is dry-farming. Given that his average vine age is 40 years old, it’s not unusual to have roots diving 30-50 feet straight down into the hillside, resulting in complex, terroir-driven wines steeped in Friuli’s telltale minerality. Consistent with his philosophy of working in tandem with nature, Dario doesn’t terrace – he says he prefers to work with the natural gradient of the hill, which also helps him to avoid rocks and take full advantage of the rich ponca topsoil. As this flysch-driven layer only goes down for the first meter or so, it can be easily thinned or lost through displacement. However, “if instead you choose the right clone and disturb the land as little as possible,” he says, “you create a natural cycle.”

Like so many classic winemaking regions, Friuli owes much to its prehistory: In the Late Jurassic, much of Italy’s NE was covered by the shallow Paratethys Sea. As the earth cooled and waters receded, vast deposits of limestone and calcareous clay were left in its wake. Throughout much of Colli Orientali, ponca - also known as opoka across the Slovenian border at Edi Simčič - offers a rich layer of topsoil, beginning just 20 cm down. Underneath, for the next 50-70 cm, alternating tiers of clay & argilla can typically be found, further enhancing the aromatics and acidic backbone of the region’s traditional wines.

Enologist
Dario Guerra
Grapes Grown by Winery
Friulano, Malvasia, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Nero, Refosco, Sauvignon
Vineyard Size
10.0 ha
Winemaker
Dario Guerra
Winemaker Biography
Dario Guerra is a 3rd generation producer (his father’s name was Albano) who farms 10 hilltop hectares in Friuli’s esteemed Colli Orientali DOC. While it’s normal for producers to have 2 or 3 green harvests, Dario – rather amazingly – treats every vine as an individual, constantly sculpting them all season long!
Winemaker Generation
3rd
AdriaticSea LigurianSea TyrrhenianSea MediterraneanSea IonianSea Croatia Slovenia Hungary Austria Germany Tunisia Switzerland Bosnia &Herzegovina Venice Verona Siena Florence Pisa Trento Catania Palermo Cagliari Lecce Bari Alba Ancona Milan Rome Bologna Naples Pescara

Friulano Friuli Colli Orientali DOC

Guerra Albano is situated in the heart of Colli Orientali, quite close to the Slovenian border. Working up to 15 hours a day in the field, Dario Guerra and family are in a state of near-constant green harvest, sculpting individual plants so that, no matter what the weather, they effectively have every exposition to choose from! In the cellar, they use a peristaltic pump, allowing for softer, less astringent wines and more integrated tannins. This weighty Friulano is bone straight, with exceptional acidity and an essential “marrow” quality that speaks of soft minerals and salt. Layered floral notes and stone fruit round out the palate.

Color
Golden straw
Nose
Apple and pear notes, with hints of acacia
Palate
Mouth-filling, with soft, round fruit and a clean subset of minerals
Finish
Crisp, mouth watering, medium+ finish
Vineyard Location
Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Vineyard Size
10 ha
Varietals List
100% Friulano (Tocai)
Farming Practices
Grapes organically farmed (non-certified), dry farmed, and picked by hand.
Elevation
220 m
Soils
Ponca (flysch) and calcareous clay
Maturation Summary
Bottled for 6 months
Alcohol
13.5 %
Acidity
5.8 g/liter
Residual Sugar
1.1 g/liter
Annual Production
7,500 bottles

Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali DOC

3rd generation Collio winemaker Dario Guerra describes his family as being "students of the leaves". They spend hours each day carefully sculpting individual plants to help guide exposition. Perched at 200-220 meters near the border with Slovenia, cooler temperatures, 45 year-old vines and excruciating low yields lend Dario's Pinot Grigio an unparalleled concentration and viscosity. A study in nature and mathematics, this wine is a weave of Friuli's telltale tropical fruits and velvety tannins.

Color
Golden yellow
Nose
Stone fruit and tropical banana, with floral undertones
Palate
Lush viscosity, balanced by high-toned acidity
Finish
Lingering, medium+
Vineyard Location
Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Vineyard Size
10 ha
Varietals List
100% Pinot Grigio
Farming Practices
Grapes organically farmed (non-certified), dry farmed, and picked by hand.
Elevation
220 m
Soils
Ponca (flysch) and calcareous clay
Maturation Summary
Bottled for 6 months
Alcohol
13.0 %
Acidity
5.7 g/liter
Residual Sugar
3 g/liter
Annual Production
7,500 bottles

Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Friuli Colli Orientali DOC

Dario Guerra is a man who knows who and what he is. As the joyful “next” in a long line of Guerra winemakers, he talks openly of being a caretaker of his family’s vineyard, about making improvements without changing their soul. “We are students of the land, and of the leaves on each vine, which has its own needs.”As Exhibit A, their Refosco is made with 2 clones, one emphasizing structure, the other aromatics. It is delightfully precise and energetic, with grip, broad fruits, and a racy/spicy personality.

Color
Dark ruby
Nose
Dark forest fruits, iron, and a hint of earth spice
Palate
Great tension, with elegant fruit and structure, both
Finish
Balanced, long, satisfying finish
Vineyard Location
Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Vineyard Size
10 ha
Varietals List
100% Refosco
Farming Practices
Grapes organically farmed (non-certified), dry farmed, and picked by hand.
Elevation
220 m
Soils
Ponca (flysch) and calcareous clay
Maturation Summary
Bottled for 12 months
Alcohol
13.0 %
Acidity
4.5 g/liter
Residual Sugar
1.8 g/liter
Annual Production
7,500 bottles

Ribolla Gialla Brut

Located in the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC in Montina, Guerra Albano is a discovery we’re proud of at Small Vineyards. The family has lost count of how many generations they have made wine, but Dario Guerra, winemaker-owner, who learned from his grandfather and father, suspects its at least ten. He loves indigenous varietals, and with this sparkling Ribolla Gialla Brut, he delivers a tangy, exceptionally clean wine, with his trademark “marrow” quality that bespeaks of soft minerals and salt. The bubbles are soft and silky, delivering lovely floral notes and stone fruits to the waiting palate.

Color
Sunlight
Nose
Orchard fruit with floral undertones
Palate
Lively, mineral-driven, and complex
Finish
Elegant, lingering
Vineyard Location
Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Vineyard Size
10 ha
Varietals List
100% Ribolla Gialla
Farming Practices
Grapes organically farmed (non-certified), dry farmed, and picked by hand.
Elevation
220 m
Soils
Ponca (flysch) and calcareous clay
Maturation Summary
Bottled for 4 months
Alcohol
12.0 %
Acidity
5.6 g/liter
Residual Sugar
1.3 g/liter
Annual Production
10,002 bottles

Sauvignon Friuli Colli Orientali DOC

Beyond the citrus, stone fruit, and tomato leaf one might expect from this varietal, Guerra Albano's Sauvignon also adds a dose of pure Friuli - tropical fruits and tiers of minerality - to the equation. Old vines, cool evenings made cooler by the descending Tramontana winds, and rich, calcareous soils all add to this wine's overall complexity and tension. On the palate, the lush fruit weaves back and forth with a through-line of natural acidity. As one online seller astutely notes, "Similar wines usually cost 2 times as much."

Color
Straw yellow with green highlights
Nose
Tropical fruit, tomato leaf, peach, and citrus
Palate
Lush and bold, with a vibrant weave of fruit and acidity
Finish
Lingering, bright, and mineral-driven
Vineyard Location
Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Vineyard Size
10 ha
Varietals List
100% Sauvignon
Farming Practices
Grapes organically farmed (non-certified), dry farmed, and picked by hand.
Elevation
220 m
Soils
Ponca (flysch) and calcareous clay
Maturation Summary
Bottled for 6 months
Alcohol
13.0 %
Acidity
5.8 g/liter
Residual Sugar
3 g/liter
Annual Production
7,500 bottles

Ribolla Gialla Friuli Colli Orientali DOC

Records of Ribolla Gialla go all the way back to the 13th century in Colli Orientali (before that it came from the Greek island of Kefalonia, where it's known as Robola) and today it is synonymous with Friuli's most prestigious DOCs. In order to create a balanced wine from this tricky varietal, savvy producers know you always have to harvest by hand: clusters are irregular and unpredictable, and the size of individual grapes varies widely, even on a single bunch. As with all of his whites, Dario's small batch Ribolla Gialla benefits not only from meticulous, season-long pruning, but also from rich calcareous soils and 40+ year-old vines.

Color
Straw yellow with golden highlights
Nose
Layers of apple, pineapple, citrus, and peach
Palate
High-toned structure and acidity, with soft, enveloping tannins
Finish
Long, persistent, mineral-driven
Vineyard Location
Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Vineyard Size
10 ha
Varietals List
100% Ribolla Gialla
Farming Practices
Grapes organically farmed (non-certified), dry farmed, and picked by hand.
Elevation
220 m
Soils
Ponca (flysch) and calcareous clay
Maturation Summary
Bottled for 6 months
Alcohol
12.5 %
Acidity
6.3 g/liter
Residual Sugar
3 g/liter