“Questo è un grande vino,” said Ferdinando Zanusso, referring to his ’99 Galea Bianco.
The Zanussos produce wines under the name I Clivi in Friuli, Italy, and this past September, I stayed with them to help with the grape harvest. The night before I left, Ferdi led me through a vertical tasting of 10 vintages of I Clivi wines. The ’99 Galea, made from the Tocai Friulano grape varietal, was my favorite. I became convinced that Tocai has the ability to age and transform gracefully over time. Deep golden in color, the wine was slightly reclusive at first but soon evolved into an enveloping and meditative libation, inviting me to appreciate its aromas and palate over the course of the evening. Its flavors flooded me… apricot, acacia, anise, marzipan, almond and sweet Meyer lemon! Agreeing enthusiastically, Ferdi likened the nose to a Middle Eastern spice bazaar, thrilled by the complexity of aromas.
To me, this is what old, low-yielding vines and traditional farming and cellar-work have the ability to create — a very particular and personal experience of wine. I was happy to learn from Ferdi that magnums of this wine were destined for Massachusetts — they arrived at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge today (and will be available at our South End store as well), and I’m looking forward to sharing a little bit of my experience with my customers this holiday season.
Gemma Iannoni is the wine buyer at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.