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Tradition in a bottle

By Mathew Scott (China Daily)

10:31, July 09, 2013

Pinot grigio from Italy's Friuli-Venezia Giulia region features a pink-orange color. (China Daily)

Pinot grigio is flowing into China, as drinkers enjoy more white wines and explore more varieties. Mathew Scott visits an Italian winery making the most of the growing interest.

We're driving past lush green fields and on toward the Italian commune of Dolegna del Collio when Giampaolo Venica points to the hillside to the right of the road.

It is there, Venica says, that his great-grandfather Daniele came in 1930 and laid down the foundations of what would soon become the Venica & Venica winery.

Today, you'll find around 55 individual plots of vines spread out across the property's seven rolling hills. They host a range of grape varieties, including the Friulano and the Magliocco grapes respectively used to make the winery's popular Tre Vignis Collio and Balbium vintages.

But today we have made the trip to Venica & Venica, situated in Italy's Friuli-Venezia Giulia region and about a three-hour drive from Venice, to focus on a wine long savored in this region that has over the past decade spread its fame - and that of the region - across the globe.

The light and crisp dry white wine known as pinot grigio produced in this region traces back to when the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte came marching through from France in the early 1800s. They brought with them all the necessities of life, including cuttings of the vines needed to make the wine to, presumably, keep the soldiers happy.

"It was the French who first brought the grapes here, but what we have now is unique to our region and we have found pinot grigio 8 is suited here in terms of both the local conditions and the local tastes," Venica says.

As China's taste for wine continues to grow at extraordinary rates, so too has the country's interest in white wines, such as pinot grigio, according to the people at Vinexpo, the world's premier wine industry gathering, which hosted its 2013 edition in Bourdeaux, France, from June 16-20.

Vinexpo's studies show China's overall consumption of white wine grew by more than 53 percent from 2007 to 2011, when 12.36 million cases were consumed over the year. The organization predicts growth exceeding 56 percent from now until 2016.

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