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Located just 40km from the Italian border in Istria, the Clai estate has been in the hands of the same family for generations. With just 8 hectares of vineyards, winemaker Giorgio Clai runs this boutique winery with a focus on producing high quality wines without sacrificing the natural ecosystem that makes viticulture possible. The family uses organic fertilizer, avoids use of chemical treatments on the vines, and work only with wild yeasts which are naturally found on the skins of the grapes.
Clai’s red blend Crno is a characterful combination of two international grape varieties, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, along with Refosco which is indigenous to Croatia. This ancient grape is found in different guises across Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, Friuli-Venezia Giulia in northeastern Italy and western Slovenia.
The Refosco makes its presence known in the blend with the sumptuous deep red colour, refreshing acidity levels which give poise and balance and distinctive violet and dark pepper notes. Modest quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon add firm tannins, a full body and rich dark berry flavours and aromas, while the Merlot helps to give a well-rounded texture and velvety smooth mouthfeel. To fully integrate these three components Giorgio matures the wine in large wooden casks until he feels it is ready for release.