COF2011: Sauvignons and Ponca

Wayne Young dishes the dirt on Friuli soil


A group of fearless bloggers is now in Friuli, Italy, and reporting daily on their adventures. All of their blog posts can be found at as well as on each individual's blog. We are thrilled to be able to bring their reporting to you and encourage you to visit their blogs daily for exciting Friulian updates from Jeremy Parzen, David McDuff, Samantha Dugan, Wayne Young, Alfonso Cevola, and Nicolas Contenta.

What follows was originally posted by Wayne Young on 2/11/11 on his blog

Sauvignon needs to mature slowly for it to show good aromas and structure, and the soil of COF is adapted to bring out the best in Sauvignon.

The typical soil of the COF, known as “ponca” or “flysch” is a light –colored calcareous marl, formed deep beneath the sea, where water pressure compressed this calcium rich sediment.
It is a mixture of breakable sandstone and calcareous clay. As the sandstone is worked and broken, it breaks down into the clay component of the mixture. The rock is friable and tends to break into flat “flaky” pieces. There are a couple of advantages. The clay component is unique for hillside vineyards and is helpful in retaining water in dry periods. This is particularly important in hillside vineyards where most of the moisture tends to run downhill and away from the vines. The ability of this clay to retain moisture in the hillside vineyards helps to insure more consistent quality year to year in Friuli.

The soil of COF is described as “cold”… its light color reflecting, rather than absorbing heat. This cool soil keeps the natural vigor of the vines in check, allowing them to ripen fruit slowly, allowing aroma compounds to develop and holding on to that brisk acidity.

Another unique quality of this type of soil is how it swells and shrinks when it gets wet and dries out. When the soil shrinks after swelling up with water, small cracks are formed in the soil that allows vine roots to burrow deep. The flat stones are unique and important for the drainage of excess water, but also because as the roots grow into the soil and encounter these flat rocks, the roots grow BETWEEN the flat surface and the soil, gripping onto the flat stone and picking up micronutrients from the rock.

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