Sicily has become perhaps best known for its wines from the famous slopes and valleys of the volcanic Mount Etna that rises from the Italian island’s northeast coast to scrape the sky. Big, complex, velvety Nerello Mascalese, and savory, tangy, salty Carricantes represent its most famous exports. What a gift but what a shame, too. This magical rock in the Mediterranean has complexity aplenty, and if there’s one thing that wine has proven stubbornly good at over the millenia, it is expressing this complexity of place. Across the island, on the northwest coast where the Mediterranean Sea bites into this rock and carves out the Gulf of Castellamare, there rises a town and another mountain. Here, upland from the ancient city of Álcamo in the province of Trapani, on the slopes of Mount Bonifato in what is known as the Alcamese Hinterland, Alessandro Viola lets in the sun, the sea air, elevation and earth to facilitate the iridescence of his inimitable wines from this inimitable place. A well-traveled and studied enologist (he has degrees in both viticulture and oenology), Alessandro cultivates 7 hectares of vines at ~750 ft elevation atop clay and limestone soils. Cool sea breezes sustain a viable viticultural climate by bathing the vines during the otherwise hot Sicilian months of summer. In his own words, “ In wine there is a perfect chemical balance - only nature can go that far. Who are we to do better than nature?”
Tasting Notes: Medium bodied. Mineral, earthy, savory. Black cherry and pomegranate sprinkled with crushed thyme. Balanced. Serve slightly below room temperature alongside charcuterie.
Vinification: 60% Nero D’Avola, 40% Nerello Mascalese hand-harvested from young vines grown in the coastal clay soils of the Alcamese Hinterland at ~720 feet elevation. The vines are guyot-trained (cane-pruned). After harvest, the grapes undergo 4 days maceration on the skins and a slow spontaneous fermentation kickstarted purely by native yeasts. The wine then ages for 6 months in stainless and is bottled unfined and unfiltered with an addition of 20 mg/L SO2 at bottling. 13% ABV