The visit to the Cantine Florio was one of the highlights of the Sicilia En Primeur tasting I attended last year, so when Benedetta Poretti wrote to tell me she was presenting a new wine at Vinitaly, I told her I’d certainly pay their stand a visit, and since I feared there might be a run on it made it my first stop on the first day. The Poretti family owns several important Sicilian wineries, and as you might guess I tasted much more than the new wine. We began with:
Duca di Salaparuta Risignolo Kados Grillo IGT Sicilia 2011
This is barrel fermented, and then goes into gain some complexity without wood’s covering the varietal nuances. Brassy greenish gold with brilliant golden reflections and greenish highlights. Pleasant nose, with fresh lemony fruit supported by butterscotch, some spice, and floral notes, and as it opens Mediterranean scrub forest and heather as the butterscotch fades. On the palate it’s clean, fairly full, and languid, with bright lemony fruit supported by savory lemon acidity and tannins that have a slight burr and flow into a warm lemony finish. Bracing, with nice character, and will work well with flavorful fish or creamy dishes, including those revolving around white meats, and will age nicely for 3-5 years, and perhaps more.
Duca di Salaparuta Banca di Valgruarnera Sicilia IGP 2010
A prerelease sample in bottle since May 2012; this is from Inzolia pruned in the alberello or bush style, which is then pressed and slowly barrel fermented, over 6-7 months. Pale brassy white with brilliant golden reflections and green highlights. The bouquet is fairly intense, with butterscotch and floral notes mingled with heather and bitterness, and some gunflint. Pleasingly complex in an intl key, and harmonious. On the palate it’s ample, languid, and quite mineral with some lemony fruit and acidity underlain by pineapple that takes a little longer to come out, supported by flinty tannins that lead into a flinty mineral finish. Pleasant, and a wine that is less explosive than the Kados; it will work well with osmewhat more dleicate dishes, and also has nice aging potential.
Duca di Salaparuta Nagasindi Nawèri Pinot Nero 2010
This is from a vineyard on Mount Etna, at an altitude of about 620 meters that Giacomo Tachis thought would be good for Pinot due to the minerality of the soils. The first harvest was in 2007. Pale garnet ruby with brilliant ruby reflections and some orange in the rim. The bouquet is elegant, with sour red berry fruit supported by minerality that has a slightly volcanic feel and some greenish notes; wood contributes, but doesn’t overshadow, and there is overall nice depth. On the palate it’s deft, and medium bodied with bright sour cherry fruit supported by slightly bitter berry fruit acidity and tannins that are smooth with slight cedary accents, and flows into a warm savory tannic finish. It’s not as complex on the palate as it is on the nose – the youth of the vineyard – though it is pleasant, with nice acidity, and shows considerable promise; when the vineyard enters maturity, in 10-15 years, it will be quite interesting. In the meantime we can simply enjoy it.
Duca di Salaparuta Duca Enrico Sicilia IGP 2008
The grapes used to make this are from a vineyard planted with Nero D’Avola in the alberello style overlooking the Gulf of Gela, at an altitude of 250-300 meters; they decided to transform it into a cru for continuity from vintage to vintage, and aimed for longevity as opposed to immediate drinkability. Cherry ruby with black reflections and ruby highlights. The bouquet is smoky, with forest berry fruit laced with ripe plums and supported by cedar and alcoholic warmth; the effect is rather brooding. On the palate it’s medium bodied and deft, with fairly rich berry fruit supported by lively berry fruit-mineral acidity and tannins that are smooth and bright and flow into a decidedly savory finish. It’s still quite young, deft, and much on its toes, and as such is a pleasant departure from the many Nero D’Avola based wines that revolve around overripeness. Interesting now and climbing too; it will be more interesting in 5-8 years if you have the patience to wait.
Duca di Salaparuta Calanìca Sicilia IGT 2011
This is a blend of Frappato and Syrah from the Calanìca vineyard, and is fermented in cement tanks. Cherry ruby with brilliant ruby reflections and some violet in the rim. The bouquet is rich, with elegant floral accents mingled with some sandalwood and bright berry fruit, supported by nutmeg and spice, with slight underbrush too, from the Syrah. Very pleasant to sniff, and invites reflection. On the palate it’s medium bodied, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by minerality and clean sweet tannins that have slight cedary accents from grapes, and also vegetal underbrush and lead into a savory berry fruit finish. Pleasant in a fresh sassy key, very approachable, and will drink quite well with foods. Expect it to go quickly and for people to want more.
Florio Malvasia delle Lipari DOC 2010
On Lipari the Malvasia is dried on mats, whereas on Pantelleria it dries on the vine. This said, the wine is tawny amber with brilliant apricot reflections and greenish brown rim. The bouquet is intense, and fairly sweet, with herbal notes, in particular sage, mingled with heather and some oatmeal, supported by eucalyptus and some dried apricot acidity, and, as it opens, raisins. On the palate it’s ample and both sweet and savory, with heather and Mediterranean herbs supported by medicinal bitterness and savory accents, flowing into a long medicinal finish. A change of pace with respect to most passiti; it’s less sweet, has less fruit, and is less obvious, inviting thought, and this is good.
This is the wine Benedetta wrote me about; they decided to experiment with Zibibbo from the 2009 harvest, aging it in Marsala casks that had previously contained the 1963 Vergine (see below note), and thus transferring some of the essence of Marsala to Zibibbo. The wine is a pale amber with greenish reflections that one doesn’t often see in a Zibibbo, and the bouquet is interesting, opening with Marsala accents and alcohol that expand to reveal candied fruit and fruit peel, raisins, dried notes and almonds, some heather, and slight mint, all with underlying sweetness that includes honey. A lot going on. On the palate it’s medium bodied, mineral, and sweet, and again a combination of Marsala and Zibibbo; there’s a fair amount of alcohol supported by sweetness and raisin fruit with underlying walnut skins that continue at length with hints of brown sugar and some savory accents. Very long finish, and an intriguing wine whose greatest defect is that it was made in a very limited quantity. On the other hand, it’s an idea in development. I drank it, and the aromas rising from the empy glass were very nice.
As I said above, the Marsala in the casks before the Zibibbo was the 1963 Vergine, keeping in mind that Marsala is a blend of vintages, and there was likely a pint of Marsala in the casks when they were refilled. The Zibibbo stayed in the casks for 2 years, during which it was carefully monitored lest it absorb too much influence from the wood.
Florio Aegusa 1952 Marsala Superiore Riserva Semisecco
Florio bottles the Marsala it considers to be the Marsala of the decade as Aegusa, and for the 50s it was the 1952. Tawny amber with apricot reflections and amber rim. The bouquet is classic and elegant, with alcoholic warmth and savory notes mingled with dried nut and walnuts, dried fruit, figs, spice, salt water toffee (caramel flavored) and much more; it’s one of those wines one can swish and sniff again and again, finding new things every time and never getting bored. Of course one will sooner or later want to take a sip; it’s full and bright, with lively alcohol and dried fruit, figs in particular, supported by some sweetness and some bitter accents, savory notes, some tree bark, sea salt, and it flows into an unending nut and walnut laced finish that gradually becomes warmth. A (positive) religious experience.