HEROIC VITICULTURE: ETNA AND FAVIGNANA
Etna e Favignana, una Sicilia degli antipodi geografici, due viticulture totalmente differenti, di mare e di montagna, ma che hanno la forza di coesistere e svilupparsi all’interno di quella filosofia produttiva d’eccellenza enologica e di valorizzazione del territorio che Firriato ha sempre ricercato e voluto. I vini dell’Etna e Favignana sono delle perle rare che Firriato sta collezionando con la sua strategia di produzione vitivinicola: attenta osservazione e sviluppo dei territori di frontiera per produzioni d’alta gamma e di nicchia.
Engaging with mountain viticulture, understanding its unique qualities and discovering the value of those qualities in relation to wine and its production, whilst keeping intact the philosophy and style of a brand that now has the strength and reputation to represent Sicily as a producer of high-quality wines throughout the world. We are in the area of Castiglione di Sicilia, on the north-eastern side of this great volcano, in an agricultural context where the vines have adapted naturally to soil and climate conditions that are singular and unique at these latitudes. The vineyard is traditionally planted: Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Carricante varieties, the reigning princes of the volcano. These specimens are of significant importance because, thanks to the sandy composition of the soil, they managed to survive the Phylloxera epidemic that in the early 20th century attacked and destroyed most of the vines in Italy. The black lava soil, the woods extending up to the branches of the vines and the series of dry stone walls are all elements of this timeless mosaic. For Firriato, Cavanera is the emblem of an important, concrete production project, with a production background and experience that few wine producers in Sicily can lay claim to.
The Calamoni estate is located on the central-southern side of the island, close to the sea, on the narrowest part of the strip of land dominated by the tall promontory. The sea plays a fundamental role in shaping the sensory characteristics of the grapes and therefore the wine that they produce, adding a collection of saline and mineral components worthy of merit. As with Etna, small, niche productions are made on Favignana, where the land and selection of grape varieties planted in the vineyards fully embody the guiding concept of terroir. Another part of the puzzle with regard to stylistic accuracy, production reputation and image in a wide-ranging plan with which Firriato intends to enhance the richness and complexity of the land and become the custodian of an ampelographic heritage unrivalled in Sicily. The vineyards on the Favignana estate, the jewel of the company, cover five hectares of land just ten metres from the cliffs of Calamoni and are planted with bush-trained vines on sandstone based soil, between outcrops of tuff stone rocks and red sand, an element that adds exceptional minerality to the wines. The constant flow of air acts as an important natural deterrent to parasites, keeping the climate dry and mild all year round. The vicinity to the sea combined with natural fertilization from Neptune Grass (a sea plant rich in potassium, which is picked up by the south winds during stormy weather and spread throughout the vineyard) add unique aromatics to the wines of Favignana. We are faced with true coastal viticulture, practiced in a production environment that is incredible thanks to the nature of its landscape, but also difficult and ambitious, characterised by singular and extreme soil and climate conditions.