2017 I Clivi Friuliano San Pietro
Region: Colli Orientali del Friuli > Friuli > Italy
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: certified organic farming, marl and sandstone soil, 70 year old vines, hand picked, whole cluster pressed, fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel for six months; bottled unfined and lightly filtered (vegan) with minimal SO2; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Mario Zanussa
Natty wine lovers probably know the country of Slovenia for its delicious and unique, white (and often orange) wines. The Italian region of Friuli is adjacent to Slovenia and they share many grapes and winemaking traditions, but even here, few producers demonstrate the synergy between a grower, his vision and the corresponding wines as well as I Clivi. Founder Ferdinando Zanussa founded the estate in 1996, purchasing 12 hectares of vineyards planted with old vines – these vines are now all 70 – 80 years old! He immediately converted to organic farming and has always tread lightly in the cellar. Ferdinando's son Mario is now at the helm, carrying on his dad's philosophy, which he describes as was letting "history speak through the wine, by making as transparent a wine as possible, in which soil, climate and tradition may come fully through and be perceived without interferences. A wine truly grown, whose character is shaped entirely in the vineyard by soil, climate and vines and is in no way altered in the cellar, a wine that stands solely on itself, and is not made to suffer any intervention or 'improvement'. In short, purest terroir expression. So, these guys have been doing the natural "nothing added, nothing taken away" thing since '96, before there was a natural wine movement or trend or whimsical bottle art. That's just the way they make wine in these parts, and it's all about the quality and purity of the juice.
Mario works with three single vineyards, our favorite being this San Pietro, which, with a year of bottle age, is in a really beautiful place right now. The unusual warmth of the 2017 vintage and their reductive winemaking style combine to produce an aromatic, complex and structured white with the potential to age. Floral and lightly herbal with fresh almond notes and a seductive, oily texture, it finishes with intense minerality and lemon zest. This wine makes us think of the farmer's market bounty this time of year - try it with fresh spring peas, asparagus or chêvre on pretty much anything!