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The Feudo Maccari lies just over a mile from the sea, and basks in a dry, sun drenched climate verging on torrid in the summer months. Mediterranean winds moderate the climate and aerate the clusters, and some irrigation is required during the hot, dry season. The vineyards lie 240 feet above sea level on southerly exposed slopes, and the predominant volcanic soil profile is mixed in a few areas with white sand and chalk deposits. The Nero d’Avola vines are trained on trees in the traditional Sicilian manner, with the other varieties to more conventional systems. The first vintage of Saia, composed entirely of Nero d’Avola, is in the 2002 vintage; experimentation continues with other varieties.
The diversity of the estates’ soil and climatic conditions dictates that cultivation and winemaking follow the demands of the environment and pursuit of quality. Yields are restricted, and at harvest the clusters are handpicked, sorted, destemmed, and put into a conveyer-belt apparatus which breaks the skins rather than crushes the berries. Fermentation takes place in a combination of temperature controlled stainless steel and lined open-top fermentors with maceration periods appropriate to the varietal in question followed by natural malolactic fermentation in tank. Cooperage consists primarily of 225-liter barriques with some capacity in 500-litre tonneaux, and is of new and one year’s use; length of oak contact depends on both the wine and vintage, but generally lasts for a period of twelve to eighteen months. A first blending of lots takes place when the wine is placed in barrique; a second at the first racking. The wines are then bottled with minimum intervention.
A large, geographically and climatically diverse island, just off the toe of Italy, Sicily has long been recognized for its fortified Marsala wines. But it is also a wonderful source of diverse, high quality red and white wines. Steadily increasing in popularity over the past few decades, Italy’s fourth largest wine-producing region is finally receiving the accolades it deserves and shining in today's global market.
Though most think of the climate here as simply hot and dry, variations on this sun-drenched island range from cool Mediterranean along the coastlines to more extreme in its inland zones. Of particular note are the various microclimates of Europe's largest volcano, Mount Etna, where vineyards grow on drastically steep hillsides and varying aspects to the Ionian Sea. The more noteworthy red and white Sicilian wines that come from the volcanic soils of Mount Etna include Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (reds) and Carricante (whites). All share a racy streak of minerality and, at their best, bear resemblance to their respective red and white Burgundies.
Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red variety, and is great either as single varietal bottling or in blends with other indigenous varieties or even with international ones. For example, Nero d'Avola is blended with the lighter and floral, Frappato grape, to create the elegant, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, one of the more traditional and respected Sicilian wines of the island.
Grillo and Inzolia, the grapes of Marsala, are also used to produce aromatic, crisp dry Sicilian white. Pantelleria, a subtropical island belonging to the province of Sicily, specializes in Moscato di Pantelleria, made from the variety locally known as Zibibbo.
Boldly opulent and robust, Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s most widely planted red grape. Nero d’Avola performs well both as a single varietal bottling and in blends. It loves hot, arid climates and Sicily's old vines are aptly head-trained close to the ground, making them resistant to strong winds. A few pioneering producers in California as well as Australia farm Nero d’Avola in the same way. Somm Secret—Nero d’Avola's other name, Calabrese, suggests origins from the mainland region of Calabria.