Hello again folks, I’m now making a habit out of this regular blog gig! I know I know about (insert expletive) time.
So we’re off to our final winery of the day, where we will be staying, also for dinner, great wine and then off for the vineyard & winery tour early tomorrow.
We are running at least an hour late, which was only about the tenth time in the last 2 days, as our local driver got lost. I have to say he was a great guy and a good laugh to be with for the week although SAT NAV he was not!
What is is with us men… a year earlier I got lost looking for a winery for 2 hours and when we arrived it was closed #iwasintheshitthatday!!!!
“NOOOOOO I know the area like the back of his hand” he said….. Errrrr actually no, every vineyard we were delayed, so after day one we started using Google maps on the bus and every time it was to turn left…. of course we turned right.
Note: I am not complaining it was like being on the Faulty Towers Bus trip and hilarious.
When we arrived, the sun is going down, a huge grand old Sicilian villa stood before us (our hotel for the night) bathed by a beautiful Sicilian sunset. RESULT!
Once checked in at Baglio di Pianetto winery and Hotel, it was only 30 minutes before our pre dinner reception. As late again.
So glad rags on, it was time for pre-dinner drinks, during the pouring we were introduced to Renato De Bartoli (grandson of the Great Bartoli wine family) who is now CEO of Baglio Di Pianetto and also Dominique the owner of the estate. The estate was started by her parents in 1977, her mother was a piano teacher in Paris and her father was a racing driver for Ferrari. Count Paolo Marzotto. Paolo raced in the 1955 Le Mans where he raced the No.4 Ferrari 121LM, the race that turned out to involve the worst motor racing accident in history. Thankfully Paolo was unhurt in the race. In fact unbelievably the race was continued and by the end of the afternoon people were again stood where 80 people lost their lives just hours before….how times have changed and THANK GOD!.
Below is a short video link (youtube) from British Pathé of this horrendous tragedy. Shortly after the race Dominiques mother said “It’s me or the Ferraris!” Thank goodness he went on to develop this wonderful wine estate.
ORIGINAL 1955 BLACK AND WHITE FOOTAGE WHICH HAS VERY GRAPHIC FOOTAGE OF THIS FATAL CRASH .
I digress again but a very interesting part of the family history nonetheless.
Glasses are filled with FICILIGNO 2018 a blend of INSOLIA and VIOGNIER.
This wine is a delight! Really, I was not expecting to find Viognier here in Sicilia. The first to plant Viognier in Sicily many years ago and the plan was always to blend with a local variety. The first vintage was 2001 (more about that one later). The terroir of this vineyard is rich in clay, mineral with FICILIGNO stone throughout. This stone is a type of slate. This strata formation rock allows the roots of the vines to break through the rock to get deep rooted to the moisture below.
On the nose this wine is tropical note heaven, passion fruit, pineapple, ripe peaches, yet on the palate its full rich, but super fresh from the INSOLIA. A wonderful long finish with a beautiful mineral streak.
Whilst we are enjoying this wonderful wine we learn that the estate has 2 sites of vineyards. Baglio di Pianetto, approx 65 Hectare and then on the East coast near Notto they have the Baroni vineyards of 45ha. Completely organic, which is quite an operation for a 700,000 bottle production per year. More about the terroir of these vineyards later, when we visit the winery at 8am tomorrow morning.
Time for dinner to be served, the dining room was a delight, after such a long day I was really looking forward to some great food and wines and boy oh boy was not dissaponited. The chef is a local guy and an upcoming superstar.
So we start with Tuna tartare, swordfish carpaccio and an octopus salad, paired with aperitivo wine FICILIGNO, however now it was the 2001 vintage, just begging for food.
Rich golden yellow in the glass, this wine is still so fresh after 18 years. The acidity and fruit perfectly balanced in harmony. The tropical fruit flavours, now mellowed but still a stunning delight. The finish was soooooo long! I think that answers any questions about “Do Sicilian wines age?” In fact in a few blogs time I will be returning to this subject.
Now we have Bucatini pasta with Sardines, a traditional dish from Palermo, this was paired with “TIMEO 2018” 100% Grillo and what a superb pairing!.
Lightly golden yellow, a touch of green around the edges in the glass. This Grillo has more body than I had expected. It has the melon, citrus zest, acidity, freshness and minerality I have come to enjoy but with a twist. They leave about 15% of the wine with skin contact, this develops more body and rich structure. A pure delight.
What a Risotto! Borage, red pumpkin and sausage paired with “Ramione 2016”- a blend of Merlot & Nero D’Avola.
It spends a year in new, 2nd and 3rd pass oak barrels before spending a further 2 years in the bottle before release. Glorious ruby colour with much darker purple hues on the edges. The nose is redcurrants, raspberry and rich blackberry too. Multi layered on the palate and the more I taste, the more it keeps giving, black fruits, then the red fruit laced in spice, liquorice with a tinge of vanilla from the Oak. Bold tannins, acidity and fruit all working in harmony for a soft feel on the palate. This wine can age!
I have to apologise, we had two wines with this next course and I was so busy enjoying both the food and the wine…. I forgot to take pictures! ANYWAY…
Veal Fillet with VIAFRANCIA red wine reduction, Rosemary roast potatoes and fava beans was OMG fabulous, paired with the following 2 wines.
“VIAFRANCIA ROSSO 2014 Riserva” Merlot- Cab Sav blend.
Called this for two reasons: the Marzotto family was half French and also that the road outside the vineyard is called Via Francia.
Winemaking: Approx (depending on vintage variation) 9mths in stainless steel tanks, 14 months in new and 2nd oak. The best lots are then assembled in steel for a further 6 months for natural stabilisation. Then into bottle, for a period which is determined we are told only by when its READY!
Deep garnet in the glass, edges of ruby highlights. A nasal wonderment of aromas, wild flowers, lavender, black cherry & raspberry, some vegetal notes of tomato leaves and herbs . The palate is a big full bodied beauty. Black fruits interlaced with cigar box, leather, tobacco that just lingers intensely persistently and ohhhhhhhhhh so elegant. Great wine.
Cembali 2013 Nero D’Avola Riserva 100%
This Nero D’Avola is made with their French history in mind in a Bordelaise style. From the Baroni vineyard in Noto and are 30 years old with terroir of sandy and calcareous soil.
Cembali is aged in French barriques for a period of 1 year, then possibly 2nd and 3rd aging periods depending on the vintage. The best barriques are chosen and transfered to large format barrels for a further 6 months. Crimson red with pink hues on the edges, on the nose its ripe jammy fruit of damson plums and slightly sour cherry. An elegant structure on the palate with a wonderful softness as Nero D’Avola are usually quite tannic wines young. Throughout from the nose to the finish there is a vein of spiciness that is a pure joy.
Last but not Least….Cannolo (or in My case Cannoli! as I had 3!) These Cannolo were from Santa Cristina Gela filled with sweet Ricotta and Pistachios. I don’t like the nuts so they did mine without. Paired to their dessert passito wine.
RA’IS 2015 – Moscato di Noto Passito.
Well the Cannoli were epic!
Perfectly paired with this RA’IS. PURE Copper in the glass, citrus and honey on the nose, so fresh on the palate, with apricots, oranges and honey. A balanced wine of fruit, acidity and sugar. On the finish its praline and ever lasting.
Well It was time for bed, its late, full bellies (food and probably a couple too many vinos) we have a 7am breakfast as the winery tour starts at 8am.
Up at 6am, I wanted to see the sunrise from my balcony, I didn’t mention before but I had a massive family room all to myself with a huge balcony (you can check out their website to stay there – when we are allowed to travel again). The first down at breakfast, as usual, it’s only 6:45 and they were still setting up breakfast, so decided to go for a quick wander around the grounds and to find some vines!.
Well, 3 of us made it to breakfast! However everyone was ready for 8am (ISH) to walk down the road to the winery.
This new winery was finished in 2003 and is on 4 levels, 2 above and 2 below ground, allowing them to greatly reduce electricity consumption by using a completely gravity fed system. They have been certified organic since 2016 however for the estate its about sustainability too. A man made lake, next to the winery, that fills up during spring, is used for irrigation. Photovoltaic panels producing 265KW of energy, more than enough to power the winery, so they sell the excess back to the grid. It’s built down 2 levels to exploit natural geothermic energy, meaning the cellars can be controlled for temperature and humidity. The system is so good they only use the temperature control system down there a few times per year during hot seasons.
Terroir, you can see from the above pictures that its hugely different on their 2 vineyards.
Pianetto Vineyard – Red clay , very mineral and full of stone (FICILIGNO) There is much more rain here at the inland location.
Baroni Vineyard Nr. Noto – Is all sand and Limestone. Here the diurnal shift is much greater and with far less rain.
Inside the reception of the winery these painted barrels are very cool.
When we entered the door to the winery I was amazed, THIS IS AN ORGANIC winery making 700,000 bottles per year, but that does not stop it being high tech.
It may all be computer controlled, but the winemaking is key to their style of wines. Renato has brought a revolution to the estate, new vines, new machinery, better wine making practices, overall making fresher style wines with less use of oak.
Down 2 floors to the barrel room or should I say a CATHEDRAL of Barrels. 40 metres down. I really wanted someone to break into song… I didn”t as I would have curdled the wine….everyone else declined.
Would we like another quick tasting of some or their iconic wines before we left we were asked?..… Why not its 8:45am and its going to be a long day.
Into the tasting room, we are told by our guide to make it quick, not to worry we are on Italian time…. so we have extra hours in the day. HAHA.
In the tasting room I was drawn to this 2005 18 litre beauty – equivalent 25 bottles. Looked like a good idea to take along our 300km bus journey this afternoon….. however they wanted to keep it!
The impromptu tasting started with:
A charmat method sparkling wine made from Insolia 100%. Carefully selected grapes are lightly pressed and left to settle for 48hrs at a cold temperature. The base juice then undergoes controlled temperature fermentation for 4-5 months. Then into pressure tanks, adding wild yeasts, this ferments once more as the residual sugar spontaneously transforms and generates carbon dioxide which gives the wine its light persistent perlage (BUBBLES). Its pale yellow in the glass with a tinge of green edge. On the nose its light, some bread, yeasts, wild flower meadow. Lively on the palate its zesty fresh, with a mineral streak all the way through. At the time this had only been bottled a few weeks. I am sure the nose will improve greatly once the wine has settled down. An unusual sparkling delight, especially at 9am!
VIAFRANCIA 2016 Riserva Bianco.
Made from 100% Viognier, it has 3 harvests all a few weeks apart, first slightly green, then perfect, then a few weeks later for overripe. The 3 wines then are barrelled on the fine lees (1st and 2nd use barrels) for 9 months. Then the wines are blended, with the green harvest adding acidity, 2nd giving the perfect fruit and the 3rd giving a richness. All into stainless steel tanks where it remains until stabilised and bottled.
Platinum yellow in the glass, on the nose ripe tropical fruit combined with a tiny brioche note, on the palate melon, pineapple, a touch of brioche, then on the finish its peppery, freshly cut thyme and a light smokiness too. This is a food wine and would pair with almost anything. A great wine.
Would we like to try this wine older….. YES PLEASE… was said in unison!
Out came the 2012, although had a different name then, it was made exactly the same.
The 2012 was now a deep rich yellow, it was a much hotter harvest in 2012 also. This had all of the 2016 but now so rich, silky, elegant and the structure all so well integrated.
The final wine was a secret BLEND! Between us we fathomed out a few varieties in there for sure.
Only ever made in 2010, 11 & 12 and really its a tribute to Paolo Marzotto,for the family, although a few dealers get to sneak a few bottles I understand from searching the internet.
AGNUS 2011 BOTTLE NO. 2607 of 4733. This wine is so FRENCH! Rich black fruits, cedar box, touch green herbs and lovely spice notes lead us to BELIEVE… that its CAB SAV, SYRAH, NERO D’AVOLA and a pinch of Petit Verdot. I hasten to add this blend is not 100% confirmed….
Huge thank you to all at Baglio di Pianetto, your wines, food and hospitality were a pure joy.
By the way…. just before we left Renato said to the driver, “at the end of the drive turn left as if you go right there is a land slide preventing you from getting to Palermo” WHICH WAY DO YOU THINK HE WENT…. Find out soon!
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