It is rarely possible to talk about a bond between winemaker and terroir with a greater depth than that which for over 40 years has united Salvo Foti and the volcanic Etna soils. Salvo is first and foremost a man deeply in love with his land, which has studied and recounted endlessly in countless lectures around the world, and from which he tries to obtain wines produced with techniques that belong to a rich wine tradition handed down from father to son.
Today, those who drink Etna wines ignore that those wines were produced for centuries on its fertile soils, as evidenced by the establishment in 1435 of the Maestranza dei Vigneri, an association of winegrowers based in Catania, the city at the volcano’s foot. More than 500 years later Salvo, who had already been highlighted as the oenologist of the famous Benanti winery, starts again from the Vigneri, gathering around him a group of winegrowers committed to using historical and non-invasive principles and techniques, considered the only way to produce excellent wines in those territories. At the same time he begins to produce wine from his own winery, located in a hamlet of Milo, in the middle-eastern side of Etna, also called I Vigneri.
Trusting tradition, Salvo cultivates vineyards at dizzying altitudes, according to a natural approach, and then vinify the grapes in its Palmento, a traditional construction, set for pressing and vinificating grapes, born in Georgia about 3000 years and then migrated to Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Among the wines produced we find the Etna Bianco Superiore Caselle Doc Carricante Vigna di Milo, a 100% Carricante obtained from a tiny parcel located in Contrada Caselle (the same as its cellar), 750 meters above sea level, in the aforementioned municipality of Milo, a village of just over 1000 inhabitants. Despite the tiny size Foti has taken about 20 years to give life to the vineyard, patiently planting the vines, according to the technique of “magluoli” that allows him to preserve only the ungrafted vines, those less “resistant” but definitely more identitarian.
On the 80 ares of the vineyard, lay 6,000 plants cultivated manually, without the use of biotechnology, with the technique of Alberello Etneo, supported by the chestnut of Etna (to act as support). Once selected, and harvested about one kilogram per plant, the grapes are crushed whole, by direct pressing and subsequent static decanting, with a delicacy that makes just over half the weight in liters (3500). Fermentation, which takes place thanks to the inoculation of indigenous yeasts, previously selected in the vineyard (pied de cuve), lasts about two weeks and is carried out in wooden barrels of 2000 liters. During the aging of 12 months, in 2500 liters cask, with five rackings during the year, the wine is clarified naturally by decanting, before being bottled (always following the lunar calendar) with an almost imperceptible sulfitation and filtration.
The 2016 vintage has a decidedly pale straw yellow color, with an equally tenuous consistency, and an olfactory fan that opens on notes of medlar, licis, gooseberry and candied cedar, followed by cardoon honey, Earl Grey tea, cedar and wet chalk, with ending iodine and fumè echoes. The palate offers what the nose has anticipated, that is a citrus freshness, almost sharp, that slowly is enriched with tasty iodine flavor and a hint of rebalancing softness; all enriched by the return of the freshest yellow fruit and the smoke that accompany the sip to a juicy closure.
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