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VINO DI ANNA, ANNA MARTENS &ERIC NARIOO, ETNA, Sicilia – Organic
Vino di Anna is a small domain owned and run by Anna Martens and Eric Narioo, high on the north face of Mt Etna, Sicily.
Mount Etna is an incredible place to grow vines. The soils are black, fertile and rich in minerals. Mount Etna is in constant
eruption, often sprinkling the vineyards with fresh cinders. The vineyards are located along terraces at high altitudes (600-
1200 metres). The climate is extreme making it both an exciting and challenging place to make natural wine.
makes a range of natural wines. The vineyards are farmed organically and tended by hand. The grapes are all hand harvested.
The vines are alberello (bush vines) and range in age from 60 – 100 plus years old. Nerello Mascalese is the principal red
grape. The white is a field blend of local grapes, mainly Grecanico and Carricante. The wines are made with minimal
intervention, natural yeasts, no additives, no fining or filtering. Little or no SO2 is used.
The fifth Palmento wine made in theirr 250 + year old Palmento (traditional Etnean wine building) is predominantly Nerello
Mascalese, from 60-100 year old bush vines coupled with a small amount of Nerello Cappuccio, Alicante (Grenache) and
indigenous white grapes (Minella, Catarratto, Insolia). The grapes were hand harvested and transported to the Palmento.
About 50% of the grapes were de-stemmed by the hand, the rest remained as whole bunches. The grapes were macerated for
four days, being foot trodden several times. The fermenting must was then pressed and continued fermenting in stainless steel,
used oak casks and Georgian qvevris (amphorae). After six months on fine lees the wine was bottled the last week of May 2017
without fining or filtering.
Paler in colour than the previous vintages, this wine is floral with vibrant cherry and wild strawberry aromas. It is
flavoursome, with a fresh acidity and soft, juicy tannins.
The grapes for the Jeudi 15 wine come from a 2 hectare vineyard in the contrada Monte LaGuardia at 800 metres on the
northern slope of Mt Etna. 80 year alberello vines of Nerello Mascalese are hand harvested with a small amount (less than
5%) of Nerello Cappuccio and Alicante (Grenache). 80% of the grapes were de-stemmed by hand into an open 30HL used oak
fermenter. The rest were added as whole bunches. Fermentation was conducted by indigenous yeasts. The fermenting must was
in contact with the skins for 8 days during which time it was gently foot plunged several times. The fermenting must was then
pressed and transferred to stainless steel and a used oak cask where malolactic fermentation occurred. The wine was left on
fine lees for six months prior to bottling without fining of filtration.
Vibrant ruby red in colour, this wine has attractive red fruit aromas (red currants, cherries, strawberries) coupled with floral
and subtle savoury notes. The palate is medium bodied, with good fruit definition, firm acidity and a fine tannin structure.
Vino di Anna is 80 yr old bush vines of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (10%), grown high on the north face of Mt
Etna were hand harvested. The bunches of grapes were perfect in 2014 so a 15 hL wooden cask was filled with 100% whole
bunches and left to ferment for 6 weeks. The grapes were not manipulated during this time. Once sufficient tannins and flavour
had been extracted and the wine was balanced in structure the grapes were pressed. The new wine was aged for 9 months in
the same oak cask prior to bottling without fining or filtration.
Fragrant, complex, multi-layered. Ripe red fruits with savoury undertones. Firm acidity and an austere tannin structure.
VINO DI ANNA PALMENTO WHITE
VINO DI ANNA PALMENTO
VINO DI ANNA PALMENTO – magnum
VINO DI ANNA JEUDI 15
VINO DI ANNA ROSSO
VINO DI ANNA QVEVRI ROSSO
VINO DI ANNA QVEVRO DON ALFIO
VINO DI ANNA Q TATARACI
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I VIGNERI, SALVO FOTI, Etna, Sicilia – Organic
A native of the city of Catania, Salvo studied enology and began his career in 1981 as a technical and agrarian advisor to
some noted estates in eastern Sicily. He continues that work today for estates such as Gulfi, Benanti and ViniBiondi, all of
whose wines are universally recognized as among the best in Sicily. But it is still working with and for someone else. Salvo
wanted his own project to really make a wine that sings.
Salvo is the leader of the natural wine movement in this volcanic corner of Sicily. While extreme in some respects (racking and
bottling under a lunar cycle), he is a pure spirit of natural viniculture and if you want to understand Sicilian winemaking in the
Etna DOC, start with Salvo Foti.
Foti is the organizer and leader of the I Vigneri project, named after a Vintner’s Guild founded in 1435 to align the small
vineyards in Sicily around the cultivation of the alberello bush vine.
Five hundred plus years later, the intent of the project is the same.
The vines are concentrated at 700 metres altitude on the north side of the volcano near the town of Calderara. Here, the
climate is more like the north of Italy than Sicily, winters are harsh and cold, the summers are hot and dry and there can be
extreme fluctuations between night and day temperatures. The soils are broken or decomposed lava stone of varying depth
mixed with sand. Many of the vines are rehabilitated old vines, some over 100 years-old, planted at 10,000 plants per hectare
in albarello, the only system Salvo considers for producing great fruit under the climatic conditions of Etna. All of these
factors allow for work only by hand or mule in the vineyards.
Because these vines are so old, there is great diversity within the vineyard and different strains of each of the varieties appear.
The grapes are the autochthonous Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio with Alicante (Grenache) and a smattering of
vines referred to as Francisi, because their variety and provenance are unknown. There is a system of replanting using only
massale selection with cuttings from the older vines while maintaining the diversity of plants. Replanting is done in the older
vineyards because some of the old vines die, but there are also new, adjacent parcels being planted.
No fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are used. The grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September until mid-October.
Fermentations are done in open vats, without the use of yeast inoculation, enzymes or thermal control (the nights by this time
of year are quite cold). Racking and bottling are done under lunar cycle. The wines are bottled with little or no filtration. The
wine is fermented in open topped stone containers cut into the volcanic rock.
The wines are like a rustic cheese or dinner at a local inn in some corner of Italy. Like strong country fare, just pulled from the
ground, spiced to bring out natural strengths in taste and strong by nature.
I Vigneri (pure Nerello Mascalese) is a pure delight, tonic, juicy and driven, floral and cherry with some fruit sweetness on the
nose, coupled with Etna’s distinctive spice and some gentle tobacco notes. This is wine of the place…as unencumbered and as
representative and as local as it gets. Vinupetra (wine of stone) is a blend of Nerellos and some Francisci from centenarian
vines, 70% destemmed grapes, the rest whole, fermented at ambient temperature for a long time. Like the I Vigneri it has great
energy, an amalgam of smoky fruit, stone-crunch and bristling acidity.
Vinujancu is a white wine, from the Nave vineyard in the district of Agro di Bronte (Etna North), 1200m above sea level. The
grape varieties are Carricante, Rhine Riesling (on French rootstock), Grecanico and Minnella. The vineyard extends over 0.4
hectare and was planted in 2005 according to the ‘Etna alberello (bush-training) system’ (alberello etneo) in rows 1m apart
with 1m between the plants, equivalent to 10,000 vines per hectare. It is cultivated by hand using natural products. No
refrigeration, yeasts or filtration are used in the wine making process. Decanting and bottling is carried according to the
phases of the moon. Lemon-yellow with glints of gold, Vinujancu’s initial impression is of incredible saltiness followed by vivid
slanting Riesling lemon rind and lime zest notes surging into liquefied minerals. As it warms up in the glass, however, the wine
opens up and mutates, unveiling powerful balsamic notes, fermented apples, baked bread and smoke – all held together by
reverberating acidity. That the wine embraces these contradictory flavours and textures, and moves back and forth between
them, signifies that it is a living wine. Vinudilice is a rosé wine, produced in the Bosco vineyard which nestles within vast holly
oak (Quercus Ilex) woods in the district of Agro Bronte (Etna North), 1300m above sea level. The local grape varieties are
Alicante, Grecanico, Minnella and other minor varieties. The 0.35 hectare vineyard is more than a century old.
These wines are sui generis and confirm the Etna terroir as a treasure trove of wonderful old vineyards. If the sweetest rose
has a thorn then the greatest wine seems to have a volcano!
VIGNA AURORA CARRICANTE
SICILIA ROSSO I VIGNERI
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Et però credo
che molta felicità
sia agli uomini
dove si trovano
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
PALARI, SANTO STEFANO BRIGA, MESSINA, Sicilia
Sicily’s most elegant wines come from this small producer located in the hills around Messina.
On the hills overlooking the Straights of Messina, the great DOC wine, “Il Faro” has been produced since the beginning of
antiquity as they love to say. Archaeological discoveries prove that winemaking in the Messina area was flourishing as far
back as the 14
century B.C. This led to a prosperous economy that continued to thrive for centuries.
Unfortunately, these good times couldn’t roll forever. At the beginning of last century, the vines were nearly devastated by the
phylloxera and production fell off dramatically during the following years. Wine production continued its gradual decline and
reached its lowest point in history in 1985 with the DOC wine-bearing area at serious risk of extinction.
In the splendid Villa Geraci seat of the new Palari Winery, proprietor Salvatore Geraci has devoted himself to the production
of his ancient and noble wine with the objective of reviving (assisted by the help of modern technology) that quality that has
made “Il Faro” famous throughout the world. The vineyard lies in the “Palari” wine district of S. Stefano, Messina, and is
planted with native grapevines of names as old as the fascination they evoke: Nerello, Nocera, Cappuccino, Tignolino, Cor’e
Palumba, Acitana, Galatena and others.... All of which are embraced by the regulations for the production of the Faro DOC.
The terrain is blessed with a unique microclimate – due to its dramatic rise of altitude of 420 metres above sea level within just
five kilometres. It is set up with “alberello” head-pruned trellis and has a medium slope of 78 degrees requiring the grapes to
be gathered and placed into 20 kg baskets by hand. Because of this labour-intensive requirement and the rigid selection which
the grapes must undergo, the total yield of grapes for each plant is only 1 kg. The soft-pressing of the grapes, the temperature-
controlled fermentation, the aging in French oak barrels, and the refinement in air-conditioned rooms – all carefully
monitored under the watchful eye of the winemaker Donato Lanati – make possible the creation of this important wine of such
noble and old tradition.
The winemaking philosophy under Salvatore Geraci is simple: make two wines with the same indigenous grapes but with
different selections. His Rosso del Soprano, a blend based on a wine known in antiquity as Mamertino, comes from the
native nerello mascalese, nerello capucciio, and nocera grapes.
The primary wine to be featured from Palari is Faro. Here the wine includes a finer selection of the same grapes to make
this a Tre Bicchieri winner. Faro (which means lighthouse) is a little DOC, almost the smallest in Italy. With just above 6
hectares (15 acres) in the DOC area, the production is clearly tiny. Sicily’s increasing focus on modern production
techniques and international varieties has had some great success, as at the Planeta estate; but Palari provides a
refreshing respite from this trend with their great indigenous wines. Faro has a ruby colour with a hint of purple. The nose
is beautifully knit, black cherry to the fore and lightly smoky nuances shimmering in the background. It is remarkably
elegant with a complete lack of over-ripeness that characterises many southern Italian reds.
The Rosso del Soprano, a blend of the two Nerellos as mentioned and aged in used oak barrels, tastes like the offspring of
a meaty Pinot Noir and sun-drenched Grenache. On the nose a mix of berry smells (squashed strawberries) and a touch of
earthiness tending towards mushroom, on the palate gentle warmth unfolding to reveal subtle hints of spice, pepper and
liquorice. As with the Faro there is a lightness of touch – these fruits may have roasted under a Mediterranean sun, but
they are seasoned by the earth and stones.
ROSSO DEL SOPRANO
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The south-eastern province of Ragusa, around the town of Vittoria, is home to the revived Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a red
wine made from 60 percent Nero d’Avola and 40 percent Frappato. The Italian government has just granted it DOCG
status (the strictest appellation in Italy), which makes Cerasuolo di Vittoria the first Sicilian wine to enjoy this prestigious
designation. (Bottlings from the current 2005 harvest will reflect the new status.) Yet little more than 20 years ago, the
wine was in steep decline, one of the many southern victims of Italy’s controversial law prohibiting the addition of sugar to
wine to increase alcohol content, still enforced today. “Cerasuolo was hardly produced, because buyers did not want the
wine in and of itself, but only the must from over-mature nero d’Avola to add strength to their wines, the price of which
was based on sugar content,” explains leading producer Giusto Occhipinti, who started the COS winery with two
classmates back in the early 1980s.
On a shoestring budget, the three friends vinified the grapes from their parents’ vineyards. They even bought Angelo
Gaja’s used French barrels back in 1983 to age the wine. By the late 1980s, they started buying new barriques and felt the
influence of California’s Napa Valley. Other winemakers in the area were impressed with the results and also began
making Cerasuolo di Vittoria, using the two local varieties instead of selling the grape juice from overripe Nero d’Avola.
“Then we took a huge step back,” Occhipinti recalls. “We tried some of our earliest bottlings, those matured in used
barriques, and we were shocked at the difference. With its mineral notes and earthy sensations, the wine was so much
more interesting than the later vintages matured in new oak with sensations of vanilla and toast. Just as everyone else in
the mid-1990s invested in new French barriques, we began recycling ours. Since then the journey has taken them away
from oak to cement and finally into amphora in order to obtain the most aromatic expression of the wines. He also notes
that COS does not use selected yeasts and has never used chemicals in the vineyards. “Our goal isn’t to make wines that
impress wine critics, but to make wine that expresses our great terroir. Here, Nero d’Avola is more elegant than in other
regions, and has these great mineral notes from the soil. This is what gives the Cerasuolo di Vittoria its rich fruit, while
the Frappato gives the wine its floral components and freshness,” Occhipinti says.
The Rami is a blend of Inzolia 50% and Grecanico 50%. Fermented in vat it retains a certain leafy pungency on the nose,
but is fairly restrained, with notes of almond and straw, and some of that citrus quality. On the palate it is brisk and
decisive, with a concentrated fruit quality that has a real tell-tale Italian bitter almond, or even Campari-like edge, to cool
pear and lemon fruit. Where are the clams? Send in the clams. Pithos, (100% Grecanico) is a cuvée where the grapes are
macerated with the skins. The wine fermented in amphora and manages to be both supple and rounded in the mouth but at
the same time grippy, spicy and herbal.
Of the reds the Cerasuolo shows a brilliant ruby red colour and nuances of ruby red. The nose denotes intense, clean,
pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of raspberry,
blueberry, carob, violet, tobacco and vanilla. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack and
pleasing crispness, however balanced by alcohol, good body and intense flavours. The finish is persistent with flavours of
black cherry, plum and blackberry. The Nero di Lupo is unfiltered 100% Nero d’Avola. Fermented in cement and aged for
a further 24 months in tank and bottle this has remarkable finesse with rich earthy-leathery fruit flavours balanced by
flinty notes. The Pithos Rosso is fermented in Giare which are terracotta amphorae (250l and 400l). The identity of the
Frappato is marked on the nose with exuberant expression of violets and raspberry blossom. The mouth is floral, warm
and supple, the berry fruit flavours complemented by soft tannins. The Frappato has proved extremely popular. The colour
is bright red, the nose ebullient with posies of violets, freesia and cherryblossom. The palate is sweet and round,
suggestive of raspberries and succulent cherries – the tannins barely evident. The Contrada is undoubtedly an amazing
Nero d’Avola. Harvested from 35-40 year old densely-planted vines on tufa-rich soil, kept in tank from twenty four months
and in the bottle for at least another six it displays the wonderful balance between a full-bodied, spicy wine that is also
fruity at the same time. This is also a highly nuanced wine suggestive of pomegranate, clove and even pink peppercorns. In
a fanciful way the wine seems to encapsulate the history of Sicily in a way, bringing together the spices and fruits
introduced during Arab and Norman invasions and combining it with the local climate… Like all wines of terroir it
transports the spirit to a sense of place.
NERO DI LUPO
CERASUOLO DI VITTORIA
CERASUOLO DI VITTORIA – magnum
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