One of the highlights of the Millésime Bio wine fair this year was meeting Friuli producer Mario Zanusso from I Clivi. Marios wines have for me always stood out as a premium example of what Friuli can accomplish, whether it be a vivaciously sparkling Ribolla Gialla, a sleek Verduzzo or a single vineyard Friulano with age and depth. This time he poured the new 2015 wines – still unbottled – as well as some older vintages.
The Ribolla Gialla 2015 was light, but well-balanced and elegant. The Friulano was a bit more dense, quite reductive at this stage but with a good length. The Verduzzo was as always more imediate in its youth, boasting white flowers, almond and lemon on the nose and exhibiting a good deal of dry compounds.
The two single vineyards – Galea and Brazan – were unusually forthcoming. 2013 with it’s cool temperatures and challenging conditions seems to have benefited both wines extremely well. The Galea had an enjoyable salty twang and good balance to it, while the Brazan was delightful, quite withdrawn but almost regal in its bearing (forgive the poeticism). Marco has always been good at holding wines back until he believes they are ready and it is only now that he has started selling the 2001 Galea. The bottling we tasted was done in 2005 and was showing particularly well, with a rich golden color in the glass and aromas of dried papaya, macadamia nuts and green tea leaves.
Sometimes the wines of I Clivi can go through phases where they behave like surely teenagers, not wanting to speak with or be tasted by people at all for periods of time. The 2015’s however seem very stable even as tank samples, so hopefully we’ll have a nice long and even drinking window with these Friuli gems…