Ferdinando Zanusso grew up around wine—his father was an amateur winemaker who owned a tavern in Treviso—but it wasn’t until he’d moved to West Africa, occasioning him to travel often through (and dine in) Paris, that he actually learned to like the stuff. But once he’d been bitten by the bug, he was all in, purchasing a vineyard in Friuli in 1996, and returning to his home region to make wine. His son Mario had a similar come-to-Jesus moment when he returned from Milan after studying engineering and fell in love with working in his father’s vineyard. It appears that winemaking is somehow embedded into the Zanusso family DNA—and we’re the ones who are reaping the benefits.
Those benefits come in the form of exquisitely charismatic wines that capture the sunny slopes in northeastern Italy. Each step the Zanusso family takes is to make a wine that honors their region. They own two southern-facing vineyards totaling 12 hectares with 60-80 year-old vines, all dry farmed and certified organic. They grow only the native varieties Ribolla, Friulano, Verduzzo, and Malvasia. There is a touch of Merlot, which has been in Friuli 100+ years.
i Clivi's two vineyards are only a few kilometers away from each other and fall into two different denomination of origin DOC and also in two separate provinces: one in the Collio DOC, province of Gorizia, and one in the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, province of Udine. These two vineyards are named by their toponyms, respectively Brazan and Galea. Rooted on two pieces of land whose geological composition shows almost imperceptible differences, the different microclimates mainly due to the winds coming from the sea hitting Mount Quarin in Brazzano Cormons, and descending from the Julian Prealps lapping the hills of Gramogliano in Corno di Rosazzo is the determining factor in the differences of personality perceivable in the wines.
Ferdinando and Mario use every good measure to not over intervene or manipulate anything, but to make clean, transparent and well-crafted wines. The yields are kept low and harvested by hand. They use only the first pressing of the grapes. The fermentation is allowed to happen spontaneously. None of the whites are macerated with the skins (these are clean Fruili wines). The wine is raised in steel tank with extended time on the fine lees. The sum of all these parts is wine of delicacy and depth. Are the two things mutually exclusive? A resounding and delicious no! As Mario puts it: “Some would say that our wines are made by subtraction, and perhaps yes, we like to give a more light and crisp character to what we produce … 'Less is more.'”
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