The region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the far north east of Italy, near the borders of Slovenia and Austria, is renowned for producing some of the best white wines in Italy. I Clivi, founded by Ferdinanado Zanusso in the mid-1990s, produces exceptionally pure wines in the two most esteemed appellations. Now run predominantly by Ferdinando’s son Mario, I Clivi is producing some of the most age-worthy and delicious wines in the region.
Ferdinando and Mario farm 12 hectares of old vines (averaging between 60 and 90 years old) from indigenous grape varieties on the steep slopes of Colli Orientali and Collio. The soils are a mix of clay and sandstone with marine deposits, resulting in wines of intense minerality. I Clivi is certified organic and very hands off in the vineyards (see photo above!), yet incredibly detailed in their work with pruning based on the vegetative needs of each vine. Yields are incredibly low – averaging only 20 hl/ha – and grapes are hand-harvested.
In the cellar the work is just as fastidious. The grapes are gently pressed, with only free-run juice used. The wines are fermented with ambient yeasts and vinified in stainless steel in order to reflect the true character of each variety. They are aged on their lees for up to 18 months before bottling with low amounts of sulphur. If you’re looking for some outstanding whites from a region you may not have tried before, I can’t recommend these highly enough.