The Wine: Rosso 2019
Lamoresca Rosso 2019 is a red natural wine made from a blend of roughly 50% Frappato and 50% Nero d’Avola with a small amount of Grenache. Destemmed Frappato and Grenache are fermented in plastic ‘tini’ while the Nero d’Avola is fermented in tronconic wooden barrels. Roughly 4 weeks of skin contact. Pressed and blended after fermentation in cement tanks for aging through the winter. Racked at least three times before bottling. Aged for 12 months in cement tanks. Minimal added sulfur and no filtering or fining.
The Producer: Lamoresca
Filippo Rizzo and his wife Nancy met over a decade ago while Filippo owned and operated a small restaurant in Belgium. At that time Filippo was among the first to be talking about and serving natural wines anywhere outside of Paris. His family had ties to Sicily and he was truly passionate about the preservation of the land and the importance of additive-free wine. After years in restaurants and retail Filippo decided to get back to the land the best way he knew, and became a winemaker.
With a scant 11 hectare farm, 4 of which are under vine, Filippo and Nancy have built the tiny Lamoresca estate from the ground up. While reviving his own olive groves and vines, Filippo spent several vintages with his comrade and fellow winemaker Frank Cornelissen making wine high on the slopes of Mt. Etna. La Moresca is the only winery for roughly 50 square km’s and Filippo and his farm hand Gaetano work the land endlessly by hand.
Lamoresca is located in the southernmost corner of the province of Catania, between Etna and Gela on the southern coast, at ~450 meters above sea level. The area has a combination of deeply compressed sandstone soils mixed with calcium and iron-rich clay. The old vines are a mixture of Nero d’Avola, grenache and Nerocapitano (Frappato) for the reds, and the extremely rare Vermentino Corso and some Roussanne for the white; all of which are worked without the aid of any chemical or pesticide.
The wines are naturally fermented without temperature control and only minimal sulfur is used, and only if deemed absolutely necessary.
The Region: Sicily
Sicily is Italy’s biggest island and also its biggest region. It’s separated from the mainland by the Strait of Messina (Stretto di Messina). The capital of Sicily is Palermo, a majestically decadent multicultural city offering one of the richest culinary traditions in Italy.
Sicily’s history and culture are fascinating, to say the least. Their complexity is manifest in the diverse architecture of its cities. All over the region and particularly in Palermo we can find Arab, Greek, Roman, and Spanish influences in the layout of the city as well as in the food and local language.
Sicily is the third biggest producing country in Italy, behind Veneto and Tuscany. The quality of Sicilian wines has increased steadily over the past 30 years. Some international grape varietals - mainly chardonnay and syrah - have found a place in Sicilian viticulture, traditionally dominated by native varietals such as Nero d’Avola, Catarratto, Grillo, and Inzolia.
The Terroir of Sicily
Sicily proximity to Northern Africa and position right at the center of the Mediterranean reflect deeply on its climate. Endless sunshine, moderate rainfalls, and good aeration characterize pretty much the whole region with minor seasonal variations. Palm trees and other tropical plants and fruits are a fairly common sight in Sicily all year round.
Among the several benefits of this climate one stands out: in Sicily, grapes can grow without being imperiled by mildew, rot, or any other disease brought by too much humidity. Sicilian grapes are generally speaking naturally healthy, hence the substantial number of certified organic or biodynamic wineries.
The Red Wines of Sicily
The most widely planted red grape varietal in Sicily is Nero d'Avola, which accounts for about 20% of the total regional wine production. Frappato is another prominent red varietal, used to make the only DOCG wine in Sicily, Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG.
Less common but typical of Sicily are Alicante, similar to Grenache, Nocera, and Perrone, often blended with Nero d'Avola. On the slopes of the active volcano Mount Etna, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio are key red grape varietals in the popular Etna DOC appellation.
The White Wines of Sicily
Marsala and Passito di Pantelleria are perhaps the most famous Sicilian white wines, although their popularity has been waning over the years in favor of dry and refreshing white wines made from native varietals Inzolia and Grillo are fairly easy to find in the United States and generally very good.
In a similar way to Umbria, the Central Italian region known for the red tannic wine Sagrantino di Montefalco, Chardonnay has found its place also in Sicily. Chardonnay from Sicily can vary in quality depending on the producer.
On Primal Wine we sell one of the few 100% Chardonnay vinified with extended skin-contact in the style of an Orange Wine made by the excellent Marabino winery from organically farmed grapes.