The Passito of Favignana
IGT Terre Siciliane
The Zibibbo vineyard on Calamoni grows just a few metres from the Favignana sea. Once harvested the grapes are transported in wooden crates, using fishing boats, from the island to dry land on mainland Sicily to be vinified. Favinia Passulé is distinguished by its sensory matrix with balmy tones that delicately balance with the slightly saline aromas. During the winter months the plants are protected from the force of the wind by a trellis barrier, but during the summer no barrier can protect the sweet ripened grapes from the greedy birds that populate the island. It is for this reason that Firriato has adopted the practice of integrated pest management in the vineyard, a technique that maintains the island’s delicate ecosystem through sustainable practices.
- Appellation: IGT Terre Siciliane
- Vine: Zibibbo
- Terroir: marine
- Soil: Quaternary bio-limestone with high presence of marine fossils
- Exposure: south (0 mt. a.s.l)
Tenuta Calamoni di Favignana
The Calamoni Estate lies on the central southern slope of the island, just a stone’s throw from the sea, on the narrowest part of this area of land facing the Marsala coast. The vineyard stretches over more than 5 hectares, enclosed by traditional dry stone walls.
The Sea Viticolture
Viticulture practiced on small Islands is an inconceivable challenge under an effort point of view. Firriato understood the great value of Favignana’s land. Emerged lands of close geological epochs and soils riched in marine fossils represent the viticultural scenario where Firriato, for the first time in the history of Favignana, has introduced a viticulture destined to high quality wine production.
At the beginning of this agronomic challenge there was no scientific literature adivised about what vine varietal was supposed to be planted or any certainty relating possible results after vinification. An experimental viticulture impossible to find everywhere. Firriato has perceived and enhanced all the natural aspects of the Mediterranean climate by valuing all the micro-climate elements of the vineyards, deeply influenced by the sea influence in order to produce high remarkably recognizable wines. The grape harvest of Favinia line requires grapes to be brought by traditional fisherman boats from the Favignana island to Trapani countryside
The infusion of seaside Zibibbo
The Favinia Passulè passito wine is the product of heroic seaside viticulture. The infusion method used in its production gives the wine an intense, elegant bouquet that evokes the flavour and memory of Mediterranean aromas. The method used to make Favinia Passulè comes from a long, slow process which starts in the Zibibbo vineyard on Calamoni, with two separate grape harvests. During the first harvest, which is carried out in the first ten days of August, the grapes growing on the spurs are collected. These bunches have smaller sized grapes and a naturally higher concentration of sugar. Grapes from this part of the plant are spread out on the trellises in the sun for the lengthy drying process. This first harvest as a matter of fact allows the plant to ‘offload’ and promotes the concentration of all its growing energy into a qualitatively superior polyphenolic ripening on this year’s cane. Some of these grapes then undergo twisting of the peduncle in order to interrupt the lymphatic flow of the grape bunch itself, favouring natural over ripening.
The Marine Influence
Favinia Passulé is the first natural passito wine produced with the method of Infusion by Firriato,this label represents the first passito wine produced in the “butterfly” of the Egadi archipelago, after the reintroduction of the Vintis vinifera in this strip of Medierranean sea.
The grapes are grown at sea level, in the Mediterranean area. the shore lying just 10 metres from the Zibibbo vineyard, where winds work like a “marine nebulizer” by spreading nebulized sea water in the vineyards that contributes to influence the aromatic profiles of grapes but at the same time causing slight burns on the foliage surface because of the salt.
Zibibbo grapes, known as aromatic vine varietal of western Sicily, are characterised by citrus notes and fragrances reminding of prickly pears and dates. In the area of Favignana this particular variety is influenced by the marine climate.
Zibibbo Grape Harvest in Favignana Island
The grape harvest of the aromatic varietal Zibibbo, growing in Favignana , is the result of human commitment. Zibibbo grapes of Favignana are extremely cared , from the two grape harvests to the transport carried out by traditional fisherman boats until the drying process on the sun and the vinification process made with the method of infusion.
The challenge starts in the vineyards with two. The first one is dedicated to the just mature Zibibbo, grapes are collected in wood crates and carried from the Favignana island to Trapani countryside. Once on dry land grapes are placed on rush mattings for the drying process within the drying garden in the Borgo Guarini Estate.
The characteristics of vintages
An Unforgettable vintage thanks to very balanced climate characterised by a fair rainy spring and fresh summer which eased slow and gradual ripening. July was very fresh, without heat peaks. At the same time temperatures fluctuations between night and day had been reported among all Firriato’s estates with a great result in achieving great fragrances and aromatic concentration in grapes. All positive elements to harvest great fruit. Slow phenolic ripening process with remarkable sensorial complexity and balance created long aging potential. Date of collection: August 22nd for grapes destined to dry on racks, September 6th for the basic wine
Intense golden color with honey hues, remarkable notes of candied orange, dates and dried figs enveloped by fragrances of sage, lemon grass, and oregano. Smooth and aristocratic on the palate.
The characteristics of vintages
The vintage looks fruity, both in quantity and especially in quality were obtained “wines of interesting profile”. Because of the climate the gathering lasted until the last week of September. The year 2013 has enabled a slower collection and then a gradual maturity: the harvest was delayed by two weeks.
Date of collection: August 28th for grapesd destined to dry os rush mattings , September 8th for the infusion passion wine28
This wine displays an intense yellow color. On the nose it discloses its nature as the son of the sea thanks to the briny fragrances together with aromas of dried figs and apricots with pleasant Mediterranean shrubland notes. On the palate this wine is smooth, full-bodied, fresh with a long persistence.
The characteristics of vintages
The beginning of September marks the start of the harvest on the island of Favignana, a terroir that Firriato was able to exploit to its full potential thanks to its heroic vocation and the orographic features of the land that enable large amounts of healthy grapes to grow and ripen. The 2011 vintage wasmarked by an average climate, with high temperatures during the summer months, which accelerated the fruit ripening process. The fruit was smaller than average in size but had sensory properties beyond expectations. Emergency irrigation systems were put in place in the vineyard to prevent plants from suffering from thermal stress on the hottest days. The Favonio wind ensured a mild, dry weather trend, protecting the vines from parasite attacks. The differences in temperature between day and night favoured optimum ripening of the bunches and an accumulation of aromatic substances in the skins.
- Luigi Veronelli: 3 Stelle Rosse, Grande Esordio
Scantily Clad Cassata
Line the tin with the sponge cake cut to a thickness of 1.5cm and lightly soak with the “Passulè”. Fill with the ricotta mixture and cover the top with thinner slices of sponge. Leave to rest in the fridge with a weight on top (for example a couple of bottles of milk) for at least 6-8 hours then turn out onto a serving plate.