Mareneve, l’anima lirica del supremo Federico Graziani

Violetta Candita

Ho accarezzato la capsula ancora e ancora prima di perdere i freni inibitori e stappare questo flacone custodito con devozione. Brilla di filosofia, mitologia, paradigmatico intuito e lungimirante personalità artistica. Sotto ogni angolazione, accarezzandolo ancora per non perdermi neanche un riflesso, con lo sguardo, la lente MACRO, il desiderio e la sete di sorprendermi ancora, come ogni volta al cospetto di MARENEVE.

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La cosmogonia del vulcano, le piste innevate che hanno l’unicità dello Jonio all’orizzonte, le latitudini estreme che reinventano i vitigni a bacca bianca autoctoni ed internazionali: queste le coordinate di MARENEVE. Si pronuncia come un bacio, un sussurro che resta tra le labbra e le emozioni non appena si fa luce e sorsi.

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Il 2017 è una preghiera, un’annata trascendentale e mistica, a cui affidare un desiderio:

dimmi che t’incontrerò ancora tra dieci anni”.

Perché nell’estasi della leggibilità contemporanea di MARENEVE c’è anche il…

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The Wines Of Etna – Excellence from An Extreme Production Zone (Forbes)

Ancient vine in the Etna production zone (PHOTO COURTESY MARCO DE GRAZIA)

Italy is one of the world’s most distinctive wine producing countries, largely because of the predominance of indigenous varieties used in wines across the country. You’ll quite often find a particular varietal planted in only one region or even a small production zone, such as Palagrello Nero and Palagrello Bianco in the Caserta region of Campania.

When it comes to Sicily, indigenous varieties, such as Grillo, Nero d’Avola and Frappato are also part of the viticultural landscape, but so too are international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay. Given the warm – or hot, depending on your viewpoint – temperatures and ample sunshine, just about everything ripens on the island. Continue reading “The Wines Of Etna – Excellence from An Extreme Production Zone (Forbes)”

Harvest on Mount Etna – Santa Maria La Nave (VIDEO)

This video tells about the 2017 harvest on Santa Maria La Nave’s vineyard on Monte Ilice. As you will see from this other video, Monte Ilice is a crater of incredible beauty. It is quite recent: less than 1000 years old, nothing if you consider that Mount Etna was born more than 600.000 years ago…

Etneans have understood Monte Ilice agricultural potential and started to cultivate it a few centuries after it was created. The soil, made of black volcanic sand and stone chippings, was perfect to grow Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante, Catarratto, and other local grapes that would be used to make Etnean wines. The grapes stayed intact until they were perfectly mature, thanks to the inclination of the crater, its exposure and its sandy soil, and the wine was deemed of high quality and “suited to the navigation” – i.e. it could endure a long sea journey. These characteristics played a critical part in the survival of the vineyard on Mount Ilice through the centuries. Continue reading “Harvest on Mount Etna – Santa Maria La Nave (VIDEO)”

Sicily – A Wine Region That’s An Island Apart (Forbes)

Sicily has many positive images (as well as a few not-so-positive), but when it comes to Sicilian wines, the subject is a bit of a puzzle to many. There are several reasons for this, but lately, producers in select areas such as Vittoria, Noto and Etna are crafting some pretty special products that are receiving a lot of attention and changing the mindset of consumers and the wine trade about the wines of Sicily.

Perhaps the most positive notion of Sicily is that everyone knows the name, and anyone can find it on a map of Italy; this last point is certainly not true with some of the country’s regions such as Abruzzo, Marche or Emilia-Romagna. So familiarity helps gets Sicilian producers get a foot in the door in the market, but unfortunately the identity of this region’s wines has for too long been one of sub-par quality.

This is based on the notion that Sicily is not a place to produce wines of elegance and finesse; the hot climate leads to lower acidity, meaning the wines lack structure and freshness. Add to that the fact that for decades, most table wine that emerged from the region was little more than bulk wine; flavorful, yet heavy, these wines were often shipped in tankers to other parts of Italy to “beef up” lighter red wines.

In fact, the history of quality for Sicilian wines in previous years was primarily focused on Marsala, one of the world’s most highly praised fortified wines, made in several styles, from very dry to medium-sweet. Yet even given the renown for the finest examples of Marsala, the strongest image with this wine for many consumers is for cooking, as with Veal Marsala or Chicken Marsala, hardly the stuff of greatness.

Antonio Rallo, proprietor of Donnafuagata Winery, one of Sicily’s most famous producers (PHOTO COURTESY OF DONNAFUGATA)

About 40 years ago, a few producers decided to do something about the image of Sicilian wines, so production of bulk wine was decreased – although it is still a large part of the region’s wine industry – and planting of international varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah were undertaken. Add to this a new focus on indigenous varieties such as Grillo and Carricante for white and Nero d’Avola and Frappato for red, and all of a sudden, the Sicilian wine pallete was aglow with a multitiude of colors and flavors.

Talk to enough Sicilian producers and you’ll learn they believe that Sicily is a magical place to make wine, as it is such a distinctive land. “The climate, the countryside, the customs, the terroir and its varieties are very different from other regions,” says Alessio Planeta, co-proprietor of his family’s winery, one of the region’s greatest ambassadors.

Alessio Planeta, co-proprietor of Planeta Winery, one of the best known of all Sicilian wine estates (PHOTO COURTESY PLANETA WINERY)

The weather, though it may be hot, does assure that almost anything can grow on the island. “Sicily is regarded a place that can grow almost any grape presenting an extraordinary patrimony of biodiversity with over 70 indigenous grape varieties,” comments Antonio Rallo of Donnafugata, another renowned Sicilian wine estate. “This is why people describe Sicily as a wine continent.

Given its viticultural history skewed toward workman-like wine, it is no surprise that there has not been an iconic Sicilian wine, such as Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany, Barolo and Barbaresco from Piemonte or Amarone from the Veneto. While this may have meant a lack of media attention toward Sicilian wines, the renaissance that started 40 years ago and continues today, has resulted in exciting new ventures and paths of the region’s viticulture. “Sicily is in a constant acquisition of auto renewal,” says Planeta. There is an improvement in knowledge and awareness of our terroirs, as well as among ourselves.”

Today, the wines of the Etna District in northeastern Sicily, are the ones that garner the greatest attention. “Etna is the hot ticket for driving Sicily’s quality image, both in Italy and abroad, with its cooler climate, volcanic contenders red Nerello Mascalese and white Carricante having attracted much global attention among sommeliers and independent merchants,” Rallo remarks. Planeta agrees, commenting, “Etna has the magic at the moment and is a positive thing for all of the island.”

The wines of Etna are something of a minor miracle given the rocky soils of volcanic ash and pumice that were formed by lava flow from the nearby volcano. It’s a difficult venture for a grape grower, notes Giuseppe Tornatore of the eponymous Etna estate. “It takes a lot of patience and dedication because what elsewhere is done in one year, it is done in two years in Etna. It takes a lot of sacrifice, suffering always the magnetism of the volcano and everything that depends on it.

Examples of Etna Bianco are made primarily with the local Carricante grape and have various characteristics, with some offering melon and pear fruit, while others display distinct minerality, even resembling the wines of Chablis in Burgundy. Overall, the best of these whites have shown tremendous improvement in a very short period of time.

It is the reds however that are most famous, made from the indigenous Nerello Mascalese variety. These wines have been called “Italy’s Burgundies,” and no wonder given the appealing cherry and sometimes strawberry aromas and its sleek finish. Some producers have opted as of late for a more powerful style of Etna Rosso that is more tannic (almost like a Nebbiolo-based wine from Piedmont), but this dual identity only adds to the allure of the red wines of Etna.

Planeta Winery near Noto, one of several wine facilities of the company (PHOTO COURTESY OF PLANETA WINERY)

Arguably the best-known red from Sicily over the past twenty years has been Nero d’Avola, an indigenous variety. Its popularity is due to its appealing black cherry and plum fruit backed by relatively smooth tannins. Sicilian producers love it, as it also works well when blended with other red varieties such as Merlot and Syrah.

The Duca di Salaparuta winery bottled the first monovarietal Nero d’Avola they named “Duca Enrico” back in 1984; today this is still regarded as one of the best examples of this variety. Other classic examples include the “Mille e Una Notte” from Donnafugata (about 90% Nero d’Avola) and the “Santa Cecilia” from Planeta, labeled as Noto DOC. This last wine, initially made in the 1997 vintage, has become a classic example of Nero d’Avola structured for aging, as 12 and 15-year old bottles are still drinking well.

Another red that has become successful over the past few years is Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato. Cerasuolo means “cherry like”; this fruit emerges in the aromas, along with red and orange rose perfumes, and there are soft, silky tannins, thanks to the Frappato. Here is a red that tastes great when chilled for 15-20 minutes, and given the lightness of the tannins, it is ideal with duck breast, chicken in red wine or even tuna. Top examples include the Feudi del Pisciotto “Giambattista Valli”, the “Floramundi” from Donnafugata, and the alluring, ultra delicious “Dorilli” from Planeta.

Briefly on whites, Grillo is an indigenous variety that for years was used in the production of Marsala. But on its own, it has appealing exotic fruit aromas and pairs well with a variety of foods, from poultry to lighter seafood; look for the examples from Valle dell’Acate and the “Sur Sur” from Donnafugata.

There are countless other whites that I can recommend, from the 100% Fiano from Planeta known as “Cometa,” a sumptuous, dry white that is among Italy’s best, as well as “Lighea” a dry Zibibbo (Moscato) from Donnafugata, and the Tasca d’Almerita “Contea di Sclafani” Chardonnay. There are countless treasures – white, red and sweet – throughout Sicily – and the best producers there are diligent in their efforts to take the region’s wines to the next step, as Planeta remarks. “We are past the period of experimentation and are now in a period of increasing our knowledge of our terroirs. We are uniting the results of past years with a studious attention of tradition.

The rest of this interesting article and the notes on current releases are here.

Un tesoro di virtù nei vitigni reliquia dell’Etna (National Geographic)

Avete mai sentito parlare del Terribile, della Vispara Etna o della Madama Nera? Sono vitigni Etnei a rischio d’estinzione.

Sul sito del National Geographic è comparso ieri un articolo molto interessante su una ventina di piante rare e a rischio di estinzione che sono state studiate e salvate dall’oblio: uve antiche da cui ottenere vini particolari, ma anche geni per migliorare le varietà più diffuse.

food,piante,botanica,genetica
Un elemento tipico dei vigneti etnei: le “rasole”, realizzate con pietra lavica e usate per consentire il passaggio tra i vigneti. (Fotografia di Elisabetta Nicolosi e Filippo Ferlito)

Le chiamano “reliquie”: sono piante rare e a rischio di estinzione. Ma resistono e producono uve dolci, colorate e spesso molto resistenti alle malattie. Nella maggior parte dei casi i ricercatori dell’università di Catania e del Crea hanno trovato questi vitigni disseminati, qua e là, all’interno di vigneti di varietà più note alle pendici dell’Etna. Custoditi da agricoltori spesso consapevoli del loro valore.

Continue reading “Un tesoro di virtù nei vitigni reliquia dell’Etna (National Geographic)”

Etna, i vini dell’isola nell’Isola

The Wine Training

Orizzontale di Nerello Annata 2014 promossa da l’Associazione Grandi Cru della Costa Toscana nella sede storica del Real Collegio di Lucca.

I rossi del Vulcano

I vigneti Etnei con le sue viti centenarie aggrappate ad un terreno scosceso e grigio fatto di terrazzamenti trattenuti da muretti di sassi neri è certamente uno dei luoghi che più rimane impresso nella mente del visitatore enoico. In alcuni versanti il mare s’intravede sembrando più vicino di quello che è nella realtà. Venti costanti soffiano asciugando e mitizzando i versanti del Vulcano dai quali colate laviche in alcuni punti ben visibili, sono ricoperte da pietrisco nero ed erbe spontanee, elementi distintivi di questa  montagna che, gli antichi greci, attribuivano alla dimora dei venti del dio Eolo.

Negli ultimi anni un interesse crescente ha visto molti piccoli produttori  individuare sulle pendici di uno dei più grandi vulcani dell’area del Mediterraneo una nuova frontiera per la…

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Gli articoli più letti del 2017 su Vini di Sicilia

Sono 181 gli articoli pubblicati su Vini di Sicilia quest’anno: abbiamo scritto tanto di Etna, di vignaioli, di vignaiole, di vini umani, di contrade, di speranze e di progetti.

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Abbiamo raccontato e raccolto quello che la rete aveva da dire sui vini di Sicilia, e la rete ha risposto in questo modo, apprezzando in particolare questi 10 articoli:

  1. Contrade dell’Etna 2017. Le 10 contrade scelte da VinidiSicilia
  2. Gina Russo di Cantine Russo all’interno del CdA della Strada del vino e dei sapori dell’Etna
  3. La Top10 degli Etna Rosso 2017. Nuova analisi dei dati di Wine Searcher
  4. I VinidiSicilia a cui non rinunciare: i 12 Nero d’Avola di CronachediGusto
  5. I vini umani di Salvo Foti, il vero Uomo Etneo
  6. I Vini di Sicilia premiati da “I Vini d’Italia 2018”
  7. I vignaioli di Sicilia nella Valigia di Bacco
  8. I 20 vini di Sicilia più cercati nel 2016 su Wine Searcher
  9. Sono 17 le Corone Siciliane della guida Vini Buoni d’Italia 2018
  10. Piccole Donne Crescono: Marilina e Federica Paternò

Continue reading “Gli articoli più letti del 2017 su Vini di Sicilia”

Incontrando la Karen Blixen dei vini dell’Etna

Coraggio e passione, per unire 2 mondi apparentemente distanti: la Danimarca e la Sicilia. Due parole per descrivere l’idea meravigliosa di Anne-Louise Mikkelsen, la Karen Blixen dei vini dell’Etna, di Tenuta di Aglaea.

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La Sicilia è terra d’invasione per eccellenza, è il luogo del riposo di ogni guerriero” scriveva Pietrangelo Buttafuoco su Il Foglio nel 2003. E citava “Soldier’s guide to Sicily“, la guida che nel 1943 il generale Eisenhower  fece consegnare a ciascuno dei 450.000 soldati americani che sarebbero sbarcati in Sicilia, tradotta e ripubblicata da Sellerio: «Invasori e dominatori che si sono succeduti in tutte le epoche, hanno oppresso la popolazione. Greci, romani, cartaginesi, vandali, goti, bizantini, arabi, normanni, tedeschi, francesi, napoletani e infine gli italiani hanno dominato l’Isola».

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In realtà, in Sicilia siamo orgogliosi di tutto quello che questi popoli ci hanno insegnato e lasciato in eredità, anche nel mondo del vino. “Cosa c’è di meglio delle invasioni per accrescere la civiltà?” si chiedeva Lina Wertmüller. Continue reading “Incontrando la Karen Blixen dei vini dell’Etna”

This versatile Italian red is Sicily’s answer to Pinot noir (VinePair)

Put down the Pinot Noir and step away from the corkscrew. There’s a new light red in town, and — I’m going to say it —it’s better.

Nerello Mascalese isn’t some sommelier favorite that’s hard to pronounce and impossible to find outside of hipster wine bars. It’s the people’s grape of Mount Etna, Sicily, and one of the few varieties that have survived centuries of trends, phylloxera, and volcanic eruptions.

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L’Etna by Guido Borelli

Sicily is no stranger to grapevines, but most of the island’s modern winemaking has focused on bulk production and sweet Marsala. While certain growers were caving to economic pressures and replanting ancient vineyards with high-yielding varieties destined for bulk wine, Nerello Mascalese continued to silently thrive. A longtime local favorite, it’s also getting its due beyond the confines of the Mediterranean’s largest island. Continue reading “This versatile Italian red is Sicily’s answer to Pinot noir (VinePair)”

Le Sciare di Silvia

Dalla terrazza gli occhi affogano fra le striature autunnali degli alberelli Etnei, coricati sui substrati, ricchi di pomice e cipria, di due sciare vulcaniche, a contrada Rovitello. Sotto la superficie, i ricordi antichi di eruzioni si attorcigliano fra polveri di manganese e ferro pronti a sprigionarne i profumi fra le profonde radici di viti prefilosseriche.

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Ci troviamo a Castiglione di Sicilia, in visita a Tenuta di Fessina, altro appuntamento speciale del nostro ottobre Etneo, accolti, con grande simpatia e professionalità, da Jacopo (Maniaci) e Giuseppe. Jacopo ci racconta di come la toscana Silvia Maestrelli, nel 2007, in collaborazione con Federico Curtaz, si innamori di questo lembo di Montagna e acquisti questo vecchio vigneto di Nerello Mascalese. Un vero e proprio “coup de foudre”, che la spinge ad acquistare 7 ettari di vigna e a produrre solo 5 giorni dopo la prima annata di Musmeci Rosso (nome dedicato proprio al precedente proprietario, tale Ignazio Musmeci).  Continue reading “Le Sciare di Silvia”