Lying in the old Bandit country of Sicily, just south of Palermo near the caves where the charming Giuliano based his criminal escapades by the valle della Jato and situated between 450 and 600 metres above sea level, is the area known as Monreale Cerea. This is where we were lucky enough to find the winery of Mannfredi Guccione, who for the last five years have taken it upon himself to bring what was once a grape growing area of renown, back to our attention.
The estate was certified Organic as early as 1996, a time when the winery was only selling their produce to other winemakers. When it was decided to produce something of their own, it was agreed from the start that the vineyards should be managed Biodynamically with minimal intervention taking place in vineyard and winery.
The vines are pruned at the end of winter, but after that they are left to their own devices and not touched until the time comes to pick. In the winery the same ideals are adhered to, with reliance on the natural yeasts, and only adding a small amount of Sulphur before bottling to help with the stability of the wine during transport. No fining and no filtration, these are wines of the earth.
From the Trebbiano Crus of Veruzza and Lolik that come from 25 year old vines, to the superb Perricone and Nerello Mascalese, these are the true wines of Sicily.
This wine comes from a single cru of the vineyard and from 25 year old vines. It is a full bodied Trebbiano with cider apples, and a slight florality dominating the nose. Aged solely in stainless steel, with extended time on the skins and a touch of oxidation naturally occurring, this offers a rich, full white wine.
Arturo di Lanzeria Perricone 2009
Sicily is blessed with an abundance of native grape varieties that are being slowly rediscovered. Currently there are only 8 wineries producing a monovarietal Perricone. Traditionally it was usually blended into other wines to add colour and tannin, but in hot years it can produce a massively complex wine. In the cooler climates and years, such as 2009, it produces characteristics not dissimilar to Barbera. A crisper Plum fruit with a fine acidity, we expect this to be one of the varietals that we will see much more of in the next few years.
Fermented in botti (old large barrel) and then transferred to stainless steel, it is finally moved to oak barrels for six months before being bottled and rested prior to release.
Gibril Nerello Mascalese 2009
Nerello Mascalese has made a name for itself in recent years because of the abundance of foreign investment in the wines from Etna, where this old Varietal hails from. If you ever questioned the idea of terroir, comparing these two zones will put your mind at rest, with a greater mineralogy being shown in the Gibril.
The nerello is produced the same way as the Perricone, with a little longer resting time in the bottle. The product is a refined and elegant wine. To me, this varity is best compared to Nebbiolo or Pinot Noir for colour and tannin structure. Though being from younger vines this is more forward though it firmly sticks to the comparison.