NATURE IN YOUR GLASS
Clockwise from the top:
Giorgio, with his right hand, Dimitri Breceivić; Clai vineyards, in the heart of green Istria; the beautiful amber hues of Ottocento Bijeli
After a long and successful career in the restaurant industry in Trieste, Giorgio Clai, colloquially known as "the Godfather of Istrian Wine", followed his passion and returned to his ancestral home, in Istria, to take over his family vineyard.
His vineyards are situated 10 km inland, on grey/white limestone flysch soil, and at sufficient altitude to still benefit from the cool Adriatic sea breeze. Clai's cellar of wines have one key factor in common - the whites, just like the reds, are all skin-contact wines, otherwise known as orange wines. These wines are food wines, well balanced, rich and complex. Historically, in Istria, Slovenia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, orange wine making was the norm and Giorgio is resolute in his mission of sustaining and evolving this tradition.
Clai's wines are certified organic, and winemaking techniques follow natural and biodynamic principles.
Giorgio quickly became recognized as a pioneer in orange wine making - identified by Simon Woolf (The Amber Revolution) as an expert: "Clai’s skin-contact whites are one of the pinnacles of the ‘orange wine’ style – few European winemakers have managed to achieve this level of finesse, balance and pure drinkability."
As recently as 2020, Hugh Johnson (OBE, esteemed wine writer) in his best selling Pocket Wine Book confirms: “Slovenia and Croatia still lead in orange/amber wines”. I don't think may people would argue that, as far as Croatia is concerned, this is in large part due to the influence and impact of Giorgio Clai.