Tenuta di Fessina
In 2007, with the help of winemaker Federico Curtaz, who had worked as Gaja’s agronomist for twenty years, Silvia Maestrelli a Tuscan winemaker purchased an old vineyard of Nerello Mascalese grapes dating back to the past century. In the middle of the vineyard stands a true gem: an eighteenth-century lava millstone with the Chianca - a Traditional Sicilian Winepress- still intact.
I' vigne di Fessina, as the locals have always called these Rovittello vineyards, located in the town of Castiglione di Sicilia, show all the love and care poured into them by the previous owners. Silvia dedicated their Nerello Mascalese cru wine, Il Musmeci (their surname) to thank them for having preserved and protected the vineyards growing on Mount Etna. Its a stunning vineyard enclosed by two separate lava flows with ancient pre phylloxera wines of Nerello Mascallese planted in Bush-Goblet (Alberello in Italian) fashion. Red wines which are now rightly famous from Etna and Fessina also produces 'A'Puddara' an Etna Bianco made from Carricante in a small 2 hectare vineyard close to Biancavilla that was planted in 1950 at 900 Meters above sea level, Its fair to say it is currently the best example of its kind in the World. We will luckily taste the 2017 that has just been released. Silvia eventually sold her winery in Tuscany to concentrate solely on this project.
In the words of Silvia. "It is our intention to promote the Etnean area, a land unique of its kind because of the extraordinary pedoclimatic conditions that give wines of the highest quality. We wish to highlight the beauty of this wonderful land that welcomed us, this island so rich in culture and luxuriant nature, which lies between the sea and the earth.
“In the middle of lands” is not only a geographical statement. Mediterranean means “lying in the middle” of peoples, civilizations, different identities, which connect with each other. And wine serves as extraordinary ambassador by bringing different cultures together."
You have two wines from this winery. Musemceci their Cru. 'A'Puddara is being released next week unfortunately and I couldn't find a bottle.
Peter and Marco his son and winemaker are producing extremely high quality wines with a super price quality, the wines are not sold through any distributors due to the small quantity they make, according to organic farming respecting the Etna terroir which is a World heritage Park.
I have included 2 Crus of Peters. Marchesa which is a newer vineyard 17 years, pure Nerello Mascalese. 36 months ageing in Wood and Bottle, Soft with mineral freshness a feminine wine one could say. Natural wine, spontaneous fermentation.
Rampante a different Contrada or Lava Flow, planted in 1965 in Bush Vines. Natural wine, spontaneous fermentation with 12 months in Barrels and 12 months minimum in Bottle. Soft Tannins with enough acidity to see it through, a lovely wine.
Super wines, Very volcanic soils worked organically with some ancient and newer vineyards dotted around the town of Randazzo, with a larvic sand and rich in pumice-like lava mineral. spontaneous fermentation and maceration for shorter times than your average winery. 5 days in steel containers with frequent pumping over and / or punching and aging is in very used barriques or larger. No clarification and filtration.
I have Included 3 bottles of Massimiliano Calabrettas wines. Why, well he has the privilege of not rushing anything, wines sometimes spend 8 to 10 years prior to release. Available in the USA I think you will like these wines. He is the only one with Pinot noir in a meaningful bottle and the aromas are superb. Old wines and a pure Carricante are the wines I have chosen. All old vines, some pre phylloxera dotted around some of the highest vineyards of Etna.
Jordan you said you like Rioja, I found this super tiny winery in San Vincente in Central Rioja your going to love it.
Heredad San Andrés (Cupani)
San Vicente de la Sonsierra one of La Rioja’s most gorgeous villages – set against the backdrop of the Sierra de la Demanda and Sierra de Cantabria. However, what is less commonly known is that San Vicente is home to one of Rioja’s finest new-wave producers, and yet one of the most unrecognised – Heredad San Andrés.
This historic winery, with its vaulted stonework and ancient cellars dating back to the 16th century, caught the eye of newlyweds Enrique Eguiluz and Magdalena Mendoza in 2000. Optimistic and bursting with drive and ambition, this charismatic and hardworking couple decided at the turn of the century to stake their claim on the (then) disused winery, fulfilling a long-standing dream to produce artisan wines at the heart of the Rioja Alta sub-zone. They settled upon the name Cupani, in deference to the native variety that was cultivated in the Rioja, before phylloxera devastated its vineyards in the 19th century. Today, Cupani is run by Enrique and his children Enrique Jr and Miguel, the estate’s winemaker. From 15 hectares of exceptional vineyards, they continue to produce superb, smooth, modern-style, fruity and elegant estate-bottled reds. I have their Flagship Wine of the same name from 2015 vintage to give you for some boat drinking.
While on Sicily we recommend the following wines
- Pietradolce 'Vigna Barbagalli' and the top wines.
- Girolamo Russo: 'San Lorenzo' and everything else. Highly Recommended, available from Oliver McCrum.
- Tenuta delle Terre Nere Prephylloxera La Vigna di Don Peppino
- Benanti Pietramarina Etna Bianco Superiore
- Biondi 'Cisterna Fuori' Etna Rosso
- I Vigneri di Salvo Foti 'Vinupetra'
- Passopisciaro, Contrada Santo Spirito and all the top echelon wines
- Palari, Faro and Rosso da Soprano
Table of contents
Short Sicilian Wine Overview for Jordan
The most exciting wine region in Italy. The largest, most interesting and beautiful in the Mediterranean Sea. Colonized by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Normans and finally by Garibaldi bringing it into unified Italy in 1860. No country this size has had more influences to bear on it than Sicily. These influences are so pronounced today in the food, the people and the fascinating mix of incredible sights all bound within this 1000 miles of beautiful coastline.
If you ask the average wine buff about Sicilian wine, they will probably not know too much aside from Nero d’Avola and great priced reds. Well, we can happily tell you that Sicilian wine is outstanding and we cannot wait to share this great island’s charms with you. The Etna wine region, for Robertson Wine Tours, is without the most exciting wine region in Sicily and Italy. Like anything that’s amazing, people are catching on and it is starting to lose its innocence and charm quickly, tastings costs have increased since we started here 8 years ago. It seems impossible to think that at the turn of the century there were 50,000 Hectares 123,000 Acres planted just on Etna, today its 7,000 Hectares and honestly growing daily.
Many important wineries will have vineyards dotted all over the region but actually only vinify in one central winery. The father of new Italian winemaking, Giacomo Tachis (Sassicaia, Solaia, to name a few just a few), has frequently said there is nowhere better for complex aromas to be achieved in white and red wines than in Sicily.
Mount Etna is Europe’s tallest active volcano at 10,930 feet (3330 metres). Wines from Etna are mineral-rich, but like nothing you have ever tasted. Nerello Mascalese and Cappuccio are the red wine varieties of Mount Etna. Sicilian autochthonous (indigenous) grape varieties tend to be for white the Catarratto, the Grillo and the Inzolia. Marsala is made from the Muscat of Alexandria and the wines from Island of Pantelleria come from the Zibibbo, the Sicilian name for the Moscato. Nero d’Avola, a hugely important red variety, is planted extensively and when blended with Frappato you have Sicily’s only DOCG wine … the Cerasuolo di Vittoria. 23 different DOC’s are enough to keep us very interested. International varieties are planted none more so than Syrah, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Visits to the wineries in Sicily are always exciting, interesting, personal and as Enotourism is still in its infancy, this gives us still a very much an advantage, but come quick. It is important to remember we prefer to choice small and natural winemakers as opposed to the large producers/names.
VOLCANOS OF ITALY
VOLCANOS OF ITALY
Campania: Campi Flegrei Vesuvius
Sicily: ETNA, Panaera, Stromboli, Vulcano, Campi Flegrei de Mar Sicilia
Mount Etna is Europe’s highest and most active volcano. Growing for about 500,000 years and is in the midst of a series of eruptions that began in 2001. Elevation: 3,330 m (10,925 ft). Etna covers an area of some 600 square miles (1,600 square km), and its base has a circumference of about 93 miles (150 km).
Name : Latin Aetna, Sicilian Mongibello. The name comes from the Greek Aitne, from aithō, “I burn.”
Mythology: The Greeks legends about the volcano abound, the giant Typhon lay there having been trapped their by Zeus, making the Earth tremble when he turned. Dionisio was supposed to have first danced on Etna and from where he danced the Vine grew, that’s my favourite one.
With the worthy exception of Mount Olympus, Mount Etna is the closest thing that ancient Europe ever had to a sacred mountain. Etna, whose mystical legacy dates at least from the days of the ancient Greeks enjoys a special place in classical literature and mythology. Indeed, certain myths relating to Etna are, in effect, metaphors for specific natural occurrences.Homer’s Odyssey is the source of some of these legends, Two gods bear mentioning.
Vulcan (Haephestus for the Greeks) was the God of the forge/God of Fire. That such a deity would dwell in a place that spurted flame is not surprising, and it’s easy to imagine Etna as a giant forge since, in a sense, it is one releasing molten rock which cools into a hard substance. Few who have not read classical mythology have ever heard of Vulcan, though he were the inspiration for a planet and race in the Star Trek television series. The giant one-eyed Cyclops. Here too we have an allusion to the “eye” of the volcano. The giant Cyclops, of course, is best known for menacing Odysseus and his men.
The ancient poet Hesiod spoke of Etna’s eruptions, and the Greeks Pindar and Aeschylus referred to a famous eruption of 475 BCE. Another of Etna’s better-known ancient eruptions was that of 396 BCE, which kept the Carthaginian army from reaching Catania.
Mount Etna Geology: Etna’s geological characteristics indicate that it has been active since the end of the Neogene Period (i.e., for about the past 2.6 million years). The volcano has had more than one active centre. A number of subsidiary cones have been formed on lateral fissures extending out from the centre and down the sides.
Mount Etna consists of two edifices: an ancient shield volcano at its base, and the younger Mongibello stratovolcano, which was built on top of the shield. The basaltic shield volcano eruptions began about 500,000 years ago, while the stratovolcano began forming about 35,000 years ago. The volcano’s slopes currently host several large calderas which formed when the roofs of magma chambers collapsed inward, including the east-facing, horseshoe-shaped Valle de Bove. Etna’s current activity consists of continuous summit degassing, explosive Strombolian eruptions, and frequent basaltic lava flows.
Physical Geography: 3 Ecological zones, one above the other, each exhibiting its own characteristic vegetation. The lowest zone, sloping gradually upward to perhaps 3,000 feet (915 metres), is fertile and rich in vineyards, olive groves, citrus plantations, and orchards. Several densely populated settlements, notably the city of Catania, are found on the lower slopes, but settlements become less frequent as the height increases. Above, the mountain grows steeper and is covered with forests of chestnut, beech, oak, pine, and birch. At heights of more than 6,500 feet (1,980 metres), the mountain is covered with ashes, sand, and fragments of lava and slag.
Eruption History: Etna’s eruptions have been documented since 1500 BC, when phreatomagmatic eruptions drove people living in the eastern part of the island to migrate to its western end. The volcano has experienced more than 200 eruptions since then, although most are moderately small. Etna’s most powerful recorded eruption was in 1669, when explosions destroyed part of the summit and lava flows from a fissure on the volcano’s flank reached the sea and the town of Catania, more than ten miles away. An eruption in 1775 produced large lahars when hot material melted snow and ice on the summit, and an extremely violent eruption in 1852 produced more than 2 billion cubic feet of lava and covered more than three square miles of the volcano’s flanks in lava flows. Etna’s longest eruption began in 1979 and went on for thirteen years; its latest eruption began in March 2007, and is still ongoing.
Airport Shutdowns: Ash clouds from the explosive eruptions are especially hazardous to aircraft, since ash that is pulled into a jet engine can melt, coat moving parts with a layer of glass, and cause the engine to shut down. These dangerous ash clouds are often visible from space
Wines: Given to relatively frequent lava spills. These spills devastate the landscape, yet each flow leaves a unique mineral profile, giving rise to the notion of various terroirs, on Etna called contrade. The borders of the contrade also reflect old feudal property lines. These are unique wines with massive thermal amplitude giving the wines the heat and the cool of night allowing for a more intense aromas and concentration, as the berry protects itself by growing a thicker skin.
Sicilia (1 DOCG, 23 DOC)
Sicilia (1 DOCG, 23 DOC)
Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG
Contea di Sclafani DOC
Contessa Entellina DOC
Delia Nivolelli DOC
Malvasia delle Lipari DOC
Mamertino di Milazzo/Mamertino DOC
Sambuca di Sicilia DOC
Santa Margherita di Belice DOC