Friulano (formerly Tocai Friulano, and also known as Sauvignonasse) is a grape variety most famous for its role in the white wines of Friuli, northeastern Italy. These wines, usually varietal, are lively and fruit-driven with notes of citrus and almond, and often a touch of minerality.
The grape is thought to be native to South West France, where it is known as Sauvignonasse or Sauvignon Vert. However, it has moved on from its home and into northeastern Italy, where it has quickly become one of the region’s most classic styles. Mentions of wines called “Tocai” date back hundreds of years here, but as always, it is not clear exactly what grape variety this refers to. Many local winemakers believe it to be Tocai Friulano.
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. In 1995 the European Court ruled that “Tokay” should be used only to describe the wines of Tokaj in eastern Hungary. This has had ramifications for Italian growers, as well as in Alsace, where Pinot Gris was formerly labeled Tokay Pinot Gris. Source – Wine Searcher