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IN THE CANNONAU’S MOUTH
The origins and provenance of the Cannonau variety are still not known with absolute certainty but it is generally agreed that it appeared
on Sardinia, having been brought from Spain, in the 14
century at the beginning of the period of Spanish domination of the island.
Numerous experts argue that Cannonau corresponds from an ampelographical standpoint with the Canonazo of Seville and the Granaxa of
Cannonau found an ideal habitat on Sardinia and the local growers were so favourable to it that it soon spread to every part of the island.
Eventually, it was being grown on about 20 per cent of the island surface planted in vines. Despite the considerable diffusion of the
variety, the amount of Cannonau wine produced is rather limited because of the widespread practice of short-pruning as part of the
alberello system of training the vines. That practice drastically curtails output, which in the provinces of Nuoro and Sassari averages
about 30 to 40 quintals per hectare as opposed to the more than 100 quintals permitted under the production discipline with normal
pruning. Gradually, however, the alberello system is being replaced by the espalier technique, which results in a wine with a lower level
of alcohol, one that is perhaps less formidable but is clearly much more drinkable.
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AA PANEVINO, GIANFRANCO MANCA, NURA, Sardegna – Organic
Pull up an armchair and warm your interest in wine at the crackling fire of extreme passion. This is the story of
Gianfranco Manca, formerly a baker, who, having taken over his uncle’s bakery made delicious, prize-worthy Sardinian
With the bakery there also came some plots of land with some very old vines that had somehow remained although practically
neglected for years. Panevino – you can see where I am going with this. The vines were trained in alberello (goblet), the
traditional bush-system used on the islands of Italy, numbered over thirty different varieties, but mainly Cannonau. Since he
was already an expert at fermentation with bread, Gianfranco believed the natural progression would be to understand wine
fermentation with the help of these vines. He set about rehabilitating the old vines and planted a parcel of new vines of Monica
and Carignano del Sulcis, the local strain of the famous grape. Although he started making wine in the mid 80’s it wasn’t until
2005 that he was ready to put a label on it and offer his interpretation to the rest of the world. “Following the steps of my
family that lives the vineyard life since over a century, “panevino” (“breadwine”) is born. Why panevino? Panevino is the
essence, the essential, simplicity, daily life, celebration, truth: Daily life turned into celebration, celebration every day. All that
I bring it with me in the vineyard, I hoe it, prune it… The vineyard returns it in the shape of a few concentrated grape bunches.
The vineyard is the heart of our farm’s activity; it covers five hectares, the rest of our life laboratory is made of olive trees,
corn, vegetables and legumes”.
The vineyards are on exposed windy slopes with schist and limestone at five hundred metres altitude and are subject to
dramatic temperature fluctuations. Minimal intervention is the watchword – one treatment only with sulphur and lime, no
fertilizers (other than what the donkey might release something once in a while!) The same principles apply throughout the
winemaking process: manual harvest of grapes in small boxes, no fining, clarification, acidification or deacidification in the
cellar. “We use only GRAPES (and prayers”)
Gianfranco Manco, makes what nature gives him in each vintage. The whys and wherefores are irrelevant, you won’t prise
technical information from him – even with a special crowbar designed for the task. Suffice to say 2013 Rosso Chi No Nau is a
Cannonau from centenarian vines and the 2013 Rosso Pikade is a blend of the gentler Monica plus Carignano. No sulphur in
these wines. Su chi no nau (what I do not say), a play on words with the name of its grape variety: Cannonau. What’s in a
name? This is a celebration of wine silence, that fantasy land where people simply enjoy wine for the sheer pleasure of it,
without the usual hot and cold running commentary, without getting mired in technical detail or lumpen semantics.
Alvas is an extraordinary white wine made with extended skin maceration (eighteen days). The motley cast of fragrant and
spicy varieties features Retallada, Vernaccia, Nuragus, Seminano, Vermentino, Malvasia and Nasco. Nuragus has an
interesting provenance: some experts believe that it was brought to the island during the XII century B.C. by Phoenicians;
others believe that it’s a native variety because its name is similar to the famous 292elabelin stone construction of Nuraghi.
It’s always been a resistant and adaptable variety and a good yielder: for this reason it is also known as “pagadeppidus”(pay
debts), “preni tineddus”(fill up vats), and “uva de is paberus”(poor man’s grapes). Alvas (meaning white – ha) is hazy-amber
with a subtle nose of orange flowers, verbena, ricard and apricot skin. The wine smells warm, like bread dough just taken out
of the oven. Smooth in the mouth the wine picks up notes of apricot jam, ginger and white pepper (from the lees) as well as
tannin and a faint nuttiness from the skin contact. In a word, Alvas is gorgeous. We drank it with baby squid stuffed with
chorizo, pine nuts, sultanas, shallots and parsley on the first night and with a chicken, fennel, carrot and black olive stew on
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Sicily’s history of colonization can be viewed by examining not only its architecture and language, but also its cuisine. The Greeks were
the first to impose a culinary influence, and in a sense, Sicilian cooking is a microcosm of Italian cooking in general in that it absorbed
and subsequently embellished such influences and developed a cuisine based on simple yet high quality local ingredients such as fish and
vegetables. During the Arab colonization, nearly a thousand years later, new foods and new methods of cooking were introduced: the
Saracens brought aubergines, spinach, bitter oranges, almonds, rice, apricots, sugar and sultanas as well as the techniques for making
sorbet (sherbet). Next came the Normans with their methods of cooking, and of preserving fish and meat
Pasta is extremely popular. It is dressed in a rich sauce and showered with grated pecorino or with salted ricotta (a local speciality). Pesto
alla Trapanese is plum and sun-dried tomatoes pureed with garlic, almonds, basil, oregano and pecorino and served with pasta twists
called casareccia. The wonderfully named Zogghiu is a refreshing amalgam of parsley, mint, balsamic vinegar and capers – delicious with
lamb or skate. Fish and pasta is particular Sicilian marriage, the best-known example being pasta with sardines and fennel. Again there
are innumerable local variants of this dish. The other favourite way to serve pasta is with vegetables, especially aubergines. As cookery
writers never tire of telling us we can’t get the wonderful small round purple Sicilian aubergines in this country. Were we able to we
would undoubtedly try to replicate Bellini’s masterpiece, pasta alla Norma, with aubergine, tomato and salted ricotta or caponata, an
eggplant stew, which like rosé from a Mediterranean country, always tastes infinitely better in situ.
Fish is plentiful and the markets teem with the fruit (di mare) of the Sicilian seas. Swordfish deserving of the barbecue lie down with
octopus; mullet, striped mackerel, sardines and anchovies are plentiful. Fish may be steamed, grilled or baked, but simplicity is always
observed in the preparation because the ingredient is king, a tenet laid down by the Syracusan Archestratus, whose 4
notes predate those of Delia Smith as the earliest known to western civilization.
Sicilian sorbets and ice creams and other dolce (such as cassata and pasta reale) are brilliant. Wonderful quality of fruit combined with
proud tradition ensures their reputation. Pleasures to be enjoyed with the great sweet wines of Pantelleria.
The wondrous Marsalas of Marco de Bartoli are not for the snappers up of unconsidered trifles. In fact, avoid the word trifle at all costs.
These are glorious delicate nutty wines with needle-thread acidity and mellow warmth designed to sip and toast a Sicilian sunset. Or a
Another of those fragrant fruity white wines that Sicily seems to specialise in, this Inzolia, (otherwise known as Ansonica in
Tuscany) from vineyards near Trapani, is more than merely drinkable with notes of almonds, citrus fruits and fresh herbs.
INZOLIA TERRE SICILIANE
CIELLO, ALCAMO, Sicilia – Organic
The dynamic Vesco family took over the winery 10 years ago and have since revolutionised the viticultural practices and
invested heavily in cutting edge technology for the winery and bottling line. Their hundred hectares of organic vineyards are
located high up in the hills above Alcamo. The wines are all certified organic and planted on south-east facing slopes on sandy
soils 150 – 300m above sea level. The climate is clearly suited for producing the best quality grapes. The vineyards in three
main sites: Alcamo for Catarratto and Nero d’Avola. The grapes tend to be picked earlier in the year than many of their
neighbours which produces their customary bright, fresh style of wine.
The results are evident in the Catarratto and perfumed, fresh Nero d’Avola. These wines are a million miles from the overripe
styles made by many of their
modern wines. Fragrant, crisp Catarratto with a pleasant trace of pink grapefruit, apple-skin with soft almond on the finish and
soft, warmy and plummy Nero d’Avola with good character. The first bottling of the Ciello tends to have the lees in evident
suspension, the wine be chalky-opaque, but the fresh has that just-off-the-tank freshness. Subsequent bottlings will be a mite less
cloudy; what you gain in clarity you lose a touch in mouthfeel.
The Baglio red is 100% Nero d’Avola from their organic vineyards. Short maceration of a week of whole bunch (40%) and
destemmed (60%) grapes. Wild yeast, no sulphur, no fining, no filtration. Chewy plum character, herbal with peppery
tannins. The white 100% Catarratto from their organic vineyard. 3 days skin maceration, no fining, no filtration, no
sulphur. The colour here is amber, the fruit is warm and spicy and the palate is rich without being heavy. Tasted blind you
might pick this as an orange from northern Italy, made from a noble grape.
CIELLO BIANCO CATARRATTO TERRE SICILIANA
BAGLIO BIANCO TERRE SICILIANA
CIELLO ROSSO NERO D’AVOLA TERRE SICILIANA
BAGLIO ROSSO TERRE SICILIANA
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MARCO DE BARTOLI, MARSALA, Sicilia
Marco De Bartoli is considered one of Sicily’s winemaking pioneers for his long-standing commitment to the native
Sicilian white grape varieties, Grillo and Zibibbo. He produces them on two separate estates: the first in Marsala, in
Sicily’s south-west corner, the other on the small island of Pantelleria, south-east of Sicily. His belief in the value of
traditional methods of production of these grapes and their wines is complemented by his equally strong belief in the
future of Sicily as one of Europe’s most vital viticultural areas. Grillo, which historically forms the basis of Marsala’s
classic wines, has been grown on the island since Phoenician times. From his Samperi winery, in the Contrada Samperi
just west of Marsala, Marco De Bartoli produces several wines from this grape. “Vecchio Samperi” was first made in
1980. Named for the territory that houses De Bartoli’s country estate, it is a prestigious “Vergine” wine made using the
traditional solera method, in which small quantities of young wine are added to wines of older vintages as they pass
through a sequence of wooden barrels. The complex, harmonious result celebrates the fruit of many harvests.
In 1982 De Bartoli created “Vigna La Miccia”, classified as an “Oro” or gold Marsala, which is a sweeter, fresher
dessert wine produced using a cold vinification process; it reveals an intense bouquet of Grillo and Inzolia grapes.
Another facet of Marco De Bartoli’s work with Grillo led in 1983 to the “Marsala Superiore”, which is aged in oak
barrels and fortified, as tradition would have it, with the “mistella” alcohol derived from must of Inzolia and acqua vite.
In 1992 Marco De Bartoli added “Grappoli del Grillo” to his collection: here Grillo is vinified as a dry white table wine,
with its unmistakable character of Mediterranean spice.
Pietra Nera is an aromatic dry wine made from 100% Zibibbo (better known as Muscat of Alexandria); it is delicate,
attractive and alluring and would make good company with fish soup, sarde a beccafico, grilled bream or cous-cous.
Like so many of our producers de Bartoli are trying to rediscover the natural flavour of wine using native yeasts and low
sulphur during the vinification. Out of this ambition was born the Integer wines. One’s initial impression is of the
uncompromising purity of the wine in the mouth – no corners have been cut, no corners of the palate will remain
unchallenged by the wine. As Eric might say: “The Integer wines will knock you on your ass” (technical winespeak – I will
Made from sun-dried Moscato, Bukkuram is a wine of orange blossom, apricot and honey. Legend has it that Apollo
himself was successfully wooed by the goddess of love, Tanit, when she substituted Moscato from the volcanic island of
Pantelleria for his daily ambrosia.
TERZAVIA BRUT NATURE ~ Grillo
PIETRA NERA ~ Zibibbo
VIGNAVERDE – Grillo
PASSITO DI PANTELLERIA BUKKURAM SOLE D’AGOSTO – 50 cl
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Looking soiled and crumpled, like the Roman Emperor who has sat up too late over the Falernian wine.
VECCHIO SAMPERI VENTENNALE – 50cl
MARSALA SUPERIORE ORO “VIGNA LA MICCIA” – 50 cl
MARSALA SUPERIORE 10 YEAR OLD – 50cl
MARSALA SUPERIORE – 50 cl
AA CARAVAGLIO, ANTONINO CARAVAGLIO, Salina – Organic
Nature is an aeolian harp, a musical instrument whose tones are the re-echo of higher things within us. (Novalis)
The history of artisanal winemaking in the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicilia essentially begins with five Spanish families, one of
which is Caravaglio. These noble pioneers were invited to travel to these wild, volcanic islands in the early 1500s to develop agriculture.
Thus, for more than 500 years, the Caravaglios have cultivated wine grapes on Salina and Lipari, establishing early on the traditions and
practices that would be followed for generations. Antonino Caravaglio’s ancestors were certainly among the first to partner with
Venetian traders bearing rootstock from Greece, planting the original Malvasia delle Lipari and Corinto Nero vines.
Few vine-growing regions in the world can claim such an unbroken chain of organic cultivation. Grapes on these wind-swept hills have
always been cared for naturally, cleansed by the sea-salty air of the Mediterranean and protected by the island’s mineral soils, which
also kept phylloxera at bay.
Antonino Caravaglio was among the first artisans in Sicily to become organically certified in the 1990s; historically, his family’s vines
and caper plants for centuries have been farmed according to organic principles. Grapes are harvested by hand and fermented with
indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. White wines are aged in tank on fine lees for two to three months; red
wines are aged on fine lees in a combination of 500L French oak casks and tank for one month. Very little sulphur is added during the
winemaking process, to ensure the grapes’ natural flavours are allowed to express themselves fully.
The Malvasia Salina is from organic vines grown in volcanic soils. Beautiful, dry, aromatic white wine with peach blossoms, lemon zest,
spring flowers, grapefruit, green melon and mouth-watering acidity.
Occhio di Terra Salina is Malvasia delle Lipari, Nerello Mascalese and Catarratto. This wine is fermented with native yeasts only and
rests on its skins for a period of time gaining colour and tannic structure. The ageing takes place in terracotta amphorae for 6 months. A
variety of aromas emerge from this wine: chamomile, herbs (basil, rosemary, dried mint), followed by ripe yellow pulpy fruit such as
loquat and mango. A tangy wine, supremely satisfying with a long persistence in the mouth and a wine that ticks so many of our nerdy
Made from old Corinto Nero and Nerello Mascalese from the islands of Lipari and Salina, the Salina Rosso spends just two days on skins
to derive its dark pink/ruby red vivid colour. The aroma expresses wild roses and black cherry scents, the wine is brilliant and clear in the
glass. In the mouth there is a distinctive savoury presence, almost a smoky quality and perky red fruit flavours.
OCCHIO DI TERRA MALVASIA SECCO SALINA IGT
OCCHIO DI TERRA SALINA
OCCHIO DI TERRA ROSSO “ROSSONOROSSO”
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