Sicily Customer Trip - September 2022 | Gusto Wines

Sicily Customer Trip – September 2022

Simon, Tom & Jean Daniel, went to Sicily with a few of our trade customers, and here’s a summary of that trip!

Monday the 26th September.

We arrived in Sicily at Catania airport just after lunch on Monday the 26th and were met by Stefano Girelli of Santa Teresa at Catania airport. Once settled in we had a pre dinner tasting hosted by Stefano and Debroah from Santa Teresa. Stefano and his team in Sicily have a mission to be organic and this first tasting really highlighted some exciting aspects of this philosophy. After tasting some of our already highly popular trade wines in the portfolio.

Stefano hosted a tasting full of new wines, moving to the region of Puglia in the South of Italy, where the climate really changes. Salento wines have a really hot climate and are influenced by the sea on both sides of the heel. The Carlomagno Fiano showed particularly well with it’s intense acidity. The white grapes must be picked at the right time to retain that acidity. The Carlomagno Primitivo red can produce a lot of sugar because of the heat. These wines are full of strength and fullness and this example is no less.

It is also Appasimneto style where a proportion of the blend has been made by using this technique. This is where the grapes are dried out in the sun for a period of a few days to a few weeks depending on the winery and weather.

Stefano had us trying plenty of exciting wines at this dinner. One of which was a Grillo Spumante which caused huge conversations and excitement. The dinner was full of incredible dishes from raw prawn infused salads and fish Gnocci. It was quite obvious at this point that people were enjoying each others company and the trip would be exciting for all participating.

Tuesday the 27th September.

After a delicous breakfast at the Hotel of pastries, local cheeses and hams, we arrived at the Santa Tresa Winery on the south east side of the island, inland slightly. The project for Stefano and his team was all about producing good quality grapes. If you have this the wine making process becomes a lot easier. The machinery is simple then the process is simple if you have good quality grapes. This is there the whole philosiphy is with regards to grape growing at Santa Tresa.

Originally the estate was 400 hectares dating back to 1697 but now it is less due to plots being sold over the years. Now the estate comprises of 50 hectares of exceptional vineyards. This year from May to August there was no rainfall. This caused lot’s of stress on the vines. However because they select their own rootstocks, these provide the resistance to drought that is needed here.

With Grape management a really important part here is picking at the right time to get the best acidity levels they can. This is a huge part of what Santa Tresa want to achieve. Testing is at the heart of this pre harvest to get it perfectly right. There is a really nice breeze at Santa Tresa which is what you want in an organic vineyard as it dries everything out naturally.

Stefano then showed us an exciting new variety planted called Orisi. This is a red grape with only 1535 planted here currently. It only produces 2,000 bottles. They were given 16 clones by the univertsity which they have tested and planted.

The harvest takes around 7 weeks and by having the refrigerator this means 24 hour shifts do not need to happen. Meaning staff are well cared for. In 2023 the winery will be self sustaining by introducing solar panels for all it’s electric requirements.

The winery was a hive of activity. White grapes go into press, de stemmed first, this is a very gentle process retaining the quality of the skins. The unfermented juice is put into stainless steel tanks and the fermentation process begins of turning the sugar into alcohol.

Tasting at Santa Teresa

The first wine tasted here was a Catarrato Lucino. One of the three recognised clones in Sicily, it almost disappeared but here they are making it at Santa Tresa! It originally came from Masala on the other side of the island. A clean wine with lovely acidity and excellent minerality. This was the 5th vintage of this wine. The minerality comes from the depth of the vine going into the soil.

 

We then tasted the Carricante which has a very different structure to the first wine. Citrus on the nose with white fruit and flowers. You need to control the production on this grape as it can over produce, which is not a good thing for wine. So control is of vital importance and they do this by pruning during the year. The wine had a lovely rounded fruit concentration to it whilst retaining that lovely acidity because of harvesting at the perfect time.

The Cortese range of wines was then tasted starting with the white Vanedda. This range is of extreme high quality and small production. Stefano got his inspiration here from Orange wine as the wine is fermented on the skins. The wines are fermented for two days, then put into barrel for seven months on skins. It is then bottled for 6 months before release.

 

Wednesday the 28th September.

A wonderful guided tour of the Town and then dropped back to the airport for of course a delayed flight and a late Gatwick Arrival at 11.15pm!

Some members of the party did not want the party to end so the plane was maybe louder than usual but what a trip and thank you to all who came!

The next day we drove to Catania and had a wonderful lunch in the square right besides the incredible fish market. A fish lunch showing us the wonderful local ways to devour such a feast! All washed down with the exceptional Grillo Spumante, then some Grillo/Viognier!