The Rough Guide to Sicily (Rough Guide Sicily)
But work does not stop among the rows, on the contrary, there are many activities also in the winery: preparing tractors, oiling machines. By the way, results of grape harvest will depend on the climate conditions taking place after the colour change of the bunches. Anyway if climate conditions continue to be fresh, we will expect a slower grape maturation and once the wine will be bottled, wine will be characterised by a remarkable aromatic expression.
Now we just have to wait the end of the grape harvest in order to confirm these expectations. The first human settlements date the Paleolithic age, but the number of populations disembarked in Favignana is quite impressive: from the Romans to the Vandals, including the Goths, Saraceans, Normans and Spaniards, up to more contemporary period when the Florio family with its Tonnara industry made Favignana a trading and entrepreneurial outpost.
Red tuna fishing has always been the economical activity marking Favignana. Until , the famous mattanza has always been the recognisable image impressed in the mind of those knowing well the island, such as visitors coming from the very first time. Moreovere, mattanza is a tradition seriously jeopardised because of the steady and natural loss of tuna in this part of the Mediterranean sea.
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The mixed influence between wind and sea generate the marine aerosol effect, expressed in the bottle in mineral notes, and a peerless olfactory intensity you cannot find in the Sicilian winescape. Vine has crossed generations, ages, centuries, and several dominations in Sicily. Together with olive, vines can be considered as a symbol of the history in this land, that element allowing to offer a piece of tradition and vine between old and young generations.
This is the reason why, it is possible to assert that Sicily can boast year-old viticulture, one of the most ancient worldwide. The several and different texture of Sicilian soil frame draws attention. From the Etna volcano which eruptions generated lava soils, rich in mineral elements, to the calcareous texture of the lands mostly located in western Sicily, including the clay and tuff terrains.
The kaleidoscopic variety of lands having shaped the landscapes over ages, is something happening once in a blue moon, making Sicily a real small continent. On the other hand, speaking about climate, hilly and coast areas are influenced by the Mediterranean influece with a low level of precipitations over mild winter. In the hinterland climate is most continental, cold and gelid weather embraces certain areas , with impressive temperature fluctuations between day and night.
In Sicily, the Trapani countryside area where Firriato owns 4 estates , is one of the most suitable for vinegrowing. Here, the magic combination between sea and earth elements, sun and wind generate a nourishing heritage allowing a good development of vine which wine reflects all the notes and fragrances of Sicily in the final glass. Together with Arabs, the Norman rule shaped the image of the Medieval city over the time, standing Palermo out for a peerless multicultural mix. As a matter of fact you can find a proof thereof, in the Palazzo dei Normanni that today is the seat of the Sicilian Regional Assembly being in turn the successor of the historical Parliament of Sicily, one of the most ancient ones worldwide.
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The building is also known as the oldest royal residence in Europe, home of the rulers of the Kingdom of Sicily and imperial seat with Frederick II, stupor mundi and the son Conrad IV. Thanks to the versatile and fascinating character of Frederick II, the last king of Sicily descendant of the Altavilla family from the mother part became a myth in the history of Palermo marking its many-sided identity forever. Nowadays,the Capital of Sicily is in the spotlight: it is not a coincidence that Palermo has been nominated The Italian Capital of the culture for , an assignment enlivening the city.
Dozens and dozens of scheduled events by the end of the year among exhibitions in the most important museums of the city, dramas, concerts, expositions and special events. However, the event goings tends to scale up with the opening of Manifesta , the European nomadic biennal of Contemporary Art in June. Altavilla della Corte is one of the most appreciated wine collections created by Firriato for the namesake family. Authentic adventurers, perfectly in line with their Viking background, the Altavilla giving birth to the very first kings of Sicily, and reaching all the corner of the Medieval Mediterranean sea, until the Holy Land.
An open-minded momentum at the base of the Altavilla della Corte wine collection. This line includes international grapes that as well as the Normans have found in Sicily the suitable land for being grown. The Etna volcano is a peerless winescape. In the east part of the Sicilian wine continent we can be impressed by the several natural and agricultural landscapes that completely change within a few miles passing from sub-tropical ecosystem to typical mountain climate and soils.
These lands have been shaped by man over the centuries and his work have been focused on safeguarding what Etna has always offered. On Etna there are 3 large areas for vinegrowing.
The first is that of the side of the volcano facing east, between and meters a. Outside these altimetric limits, vinegrowing could be jeopardised because of defects or excesses of some fundamental constituents of the grapes, affecting future wine. A significant factor is linked to harvest, which begins on the volcano one month late October compared to the rest of Sicily. Nerello Mascalese can reveal 4 century of history.
Variety of great vegetative and productive vigor, after being cultivated in the Catania area and in the Messina area for a long time, has spread to the provinces of Palermo and Agrigento in the last 30 years, becoming one of the most important Sicilian red grapes. A success due to its excellent production numbers, enhanced by training systems such as the counter espalier. Today, the hectares of Nerello Mascalese enrolled in the Register of Etna DOC vineyards are about , of which about half with over 30 years of age. The name Cappuccio probably derives from the bloom that covers the bunches like a coat.
This variety has been identified in the eighteenth century by ampelographic investigation in the area of Catania. The vine played a key role in the past, becoming one of the most cultivated varieties before being shelved up to risk the disappearance. Nowadays , following the research of the most suitable terroir for Nerello Cappuccio vinegrowing, Firriato has recognized its appreciable qualities in winemaking: the resulting glass is a pure expression of the inhospitable territories rich in organic substance of the highest and most active volcano in Europe. When a name is able to evoke a whole land this is the prove that its background is supposed to be considered so historical to go beyond the bounds.
When this wine is still young and vinified in steel tanks discloses black cherry, plum and berry aromas. Thanks to the durmast barrel maturation fragrances tend to be more complex. In addition to the fruity based hints other interesting sensorial items enrich the bouquet such as: leather, spicy notes, carob, licorice, cinnamon, balsamic and toast hints.
Normally full-bodied, its alcoholic level is pretty high, smooth tannins, and a great acidity level ensuring good expectations for aging. How to pair it with? Of course with the best main courses of Sicilian gastronomic tradition, grilled meats, and for the young expressions of this varietal you can also pair with delicious tuna fish courses. Pre- pruning helps the vine to control grape quantity and ecourages the plants to come back to life during springtime by arranging the shoots towards light consequently control the number of buds. Anyway different winegrowing regions have different pruning styles and the diversity is the leading aspect of Firriato winery.
A work of precision viticulture starting before Christmas with pre-pruning shaping the plant ensuring a correct development. We consider this practice such as a tailor work lived symbiotically with the Nature, an important step to imply such agronomic knowledge passed down through the generations. For the Cavanera estate on the Mount Etna , the volcano donimating vineyards is like a father who with his majestic figure safeguards and protects his baby.
He does not only shield his baby but also works as the main source of energy. Nerello Cappuccio is one of the two red vines grown by Firriato in the Cavanera estate. The harvest begins over the second week of September with an increase of work between first and second week of October, ending by the first week of November. The result of this blend is a perfect elegant wine with remarkable minerals nuance , with very intense fruity fragrances and bodied on the palate. Here Nerello Mascalese. A vine remarkably exalted by particular soil and climate conditions of Cavanera estate where it grows thanks to strong temperatures fluctuations between day and night , snowfalls not forgetting basalts in the soil texture.
Nerello Mascalese grapes generates another marvelous wine, or better to say a marvelous spumante: Gaudensius Blanc de Noir.
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Spumante Brut Classic method surprising for its elegant impression on the palate and the extraordinary lively perlage together with its straw yellow color with golden hues and its complex and fresh aromas making it so compelling. A mythical land. As a matter of fact, we can say that this is the same way of how one of the flagships of this island appears to the world. That is the vine.
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This is the case of such vine varietal like Catarratto that is supposed to express the energy of the volcano, if it grows on the Mount Etna, unlike the terroir of Favignana, one step behind the Mediterranean sea, where the same grape will release the mineral sapidity of the briny water in the wine. As a matter of fact, according to vine varietal and its placement in the Sicilian map of vines, grape harvest can vary from the first decade of August , such as the Chardonnay of the Borgo Guarini estate, a place boasted by a thousand-year-old agricultural tradition or, far beyond, at the altitudes of Cavanera on the Etna, where the red Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese grape harvest starts only in the middle of October, concluding an intense collect period, lasting one-hundred days.
The sea not ten metres from us, seduces like the voice of a mermaid, inviting us for a dive. However, unlike Ulysses, we have a good reason to be distracted: moved by the breeze we turn and find row of vines kissed by sun and protected by a reassuring promontory on the top and a continuous line of drywall at the bottom. This view reveals us the Calamoni di Favignana estate, the unique vineyard in production of the Egadi islands, the real jewel estate of Firriato, located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, a flagship of a beautiful and heroic viticolture.
In the heart of the estate you can find a marvelous villa which Firriato shall make available for guests. An oasis of peace , very pleasant and fresh and closely in touch with nature with a porch from where enjoying marvelous sunsets after a pleasant day spent on the beach. Enjoy these sunsets with a glass of Favinia La Muciara , blend of Grillo, Catarratto and Zibibbo grapes growing in the heart of the Calamoni estate, a white characterised by pleasant flavour and minerality resulted by the marine influence concentrated in this wine, thanks to the briny water drops brought by wind into the vineyard , over the maturation period.
The natural beauty and the possibility to relax in a particular context such as the Calamoni one are supposed to be consedered like good reasons to spend some days of holidays in one of the pearl destination of the Mediterranean sea. The summer of Favignana are rich in aperitifs close to the sea and all night long parties , perfect opportunities to meet, know, remember also for uncorking a bottle of Saint Germain among friends. This sparkling wine dosage Brut belonging to Di Gaetano family is a blend of Grillo and Catarratto native vines, which particular fragrances make this spumante very easy to drink and enjoy.
The Santagostino bianco is the right wine to pair with this course coming from Africa and become one of the most authentic flavour of north-west part of Sicily. The Santagostino bianco is another blend, of Chardonnay and Catarratto, where fresh fruit aromas meet the fragrances of wildflowers, hazelnut, vanilla and a trace of almond. An ideal match for a perfect summer. Eventually, a key event able to validate the visit: the grape harvest of Calamoni di Favignana occurring over the last days of August and the first decade of September.
Blue Guide Sicily
Grapes are manually harvested and placed in wooden crates that will be loaded on the typical fisherman boats to be brought to the port of Trapani. As a matter of fact, the Di Gaetano family has chosen to not build any winery on the island according to its eco-friendly production philosophy.
This decision has indirectly generated the exhibition of the grape travel on the sea, which yearly attracts many visitors wanting to attend. Blooming vines gush with their color beauty but nature has to be helped to produce quality grapes.
Over these days we eliminate non fruit-bearing buds from the vines leaving selected buds on the plant. This activity is manually carried out and requires both experience and analyzed knowledge of pruning tecniques. Only the most expert grape grower can adopt this practice in the vineyard that set a complete maturation process of shooting and a greater vigour of remaining buds. Vegetative conditioning or bud trellis system is a further agronomic practice carried out in those vineyards where precision viticulture is the rule.
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