Archivi tag: vino sicilia




Qual è la storia di Vini Scirto?
L’azienda apparteneva ai nonni di Giuseppe che hanno sempre prodotto vino e olio, che venivano venduti rigorosamente sfusi.  Quando il nonno di Giuseppe è morto, era il periodo in cui tutti, sull’Etna, vendevano i vigneti… E noi, invece, controcorrente, abbiamo deciso di non vendere e di iniziare a lavorare le vigne, spinti anche e soprattutto dal fatto che per Giuseppe hanno un grande valore affettivo, visto che sin da piccolo ci trascorreva tutte le estati insieme a suo nonno aiutandolo nei lavori…. Così nel 2009 abbiamo iniziato a lavorare in vigna, come il nonno ci ha insegnato e la 2010 è stata la nostra prima annata ad andare in bottiglia”.

Che vini fate?
Le vigne sono centenarie e i vitigni sono nerello mascalese, nerello cappuccio (bacca rossa), carricante, catarratto, minnella e grecanico (bacca bianca): tutti vitigni autoctoni. Produciamo 3 etichette:  un bianco, blend di tutte le uve a bacca bianca che si chiama Don Pippinu (in ricordo del nonno);  due Etna Rosso, provenienti da due contrade diverse, che si chiamano Don Pippinu e A’ Culonna.  Abbiamo completamente bandito la chimica sia dai terreni che dalla cantina… L’unica chimica che utilizziamo è quella dell’amore!”.

Che vuol dire per voi essere vignaioli eretici?
“Essere vignaioli eretici per noi vuol dire essere corretti in un mondo scorretto. Vuol dire essere onesti, prima di tutto con noi stessi. Vuol dire essere coscienti che siamo solo i custodi di questa terra per il breve tempo del nostro passaggio. Vuol dire pensare a chi verrà dopo di noi”.

Tre aggettivi per descrivere i vostri vini.
“Artigianali. Naturali. Sinceri”.



Vini Scirto: passioni condivise.

C’erano un nonno e suo nipote fermi davanti “a culonna” di Passopisciaro: aspettavano che i forestieri si fermassero per vender loro vino sfuso dell’Etna. Si facevano grandi affari ai tempi. Tutte le ore con la schiena china nella vigna ripagavano in denaro e soddisfazioni…..


Marzia Scala

Valeria Franco

A Tribute: Women of Etna

By Nadine Guarrera

When we learned that this year’s International Women’s Day theme was “Make It Happen,” I knew we had to shine a light on the women in wine here on Etna.


International Women’s Dayoccurs on March 8 of every year and celebrates women in general in addition to the economic, political and social achievements of women – past, present, and future. More than 60 countries celebrate International Women’s Day as an official holiday. It Italy, we celebrateFesta della Donna (La Giornata internazionale della donna).

The women who work in Mount Etna’s wine industry make it happen every day. Whether its pruning the vines, making the wines, developing marketing strategies, negotiating local and international business accounts, or entertaining visitors, they do whatever they can to grow their businesses and share their brands, all while balancing modern life on Europe’s largest, most-active volcano.

The wine industry is not a business for the faint of heart. Most people enter the business because of a passion, or an attachment to the land. The women of Etna’s wine community are resourceful, insightful, supportive, strong, and focused, and we are excited to share some of their stories with you here.

We continue our week-long series with Valeria Franco, the “Jill of all trades” at Vini Scirto, a micro-boutique winery focused on Carricante and old-vine Nerello Mascalese.

The winery’s vineyards have been worked for three generations, first producing vino sfuso (bulk wine) for the local market. Now under the stewardship of Valeria Franco and Giuseppe Scirto, the new line of bottled wines are wowing wine lovers and journalists in the local and international market.

Whether Valeria is working in the vineyards or promoting the brand, her focus is never far the north slope of Etna.

In the interview below, find out how love led this young winemaker to an unexpected future on the volcano Etna.

Etna Wine School [EWS]: Was there a defining “ah-ha” moment that drew you to wine?

Valeria Franco [VF]: I can’t say that there was a particular moment. It was a series of events that made Giuseppe and I want to change to our lives, to do something that would make us happy.

EWS: What is it the wine that makes you happy?

VF: It makes me happy that the wine can communicate something to us, with every sip, anyone might be able to imagine us in the vineyard, working the vines, or collecting the grapes at harvest, or working in the wine cellar.

EWS: What prompted you to choose a career in winemaking on a volcano? In other words, how did you get here / now?

VF: It was a decision Giuseppe, my fiancée, made first and I was immediately ready and very happy to follow him. We were driven by our love of the land and the memories that bind us to it. Of course, we were born at the foot of the “Mountain” and we have grown up knowing these places where there is a millennia of farming traditions. People have always owned vineyards and the harvest has always been considered a great celebration to share with family and friends. It was a very natural choice [to choose winemaking], though I was almost “obligated” to continue this tradition.

EWS: Do you think that women have made inroads in what is traditionally a profession dominated by men? He has the attitude towards women in the wine industry changed since you started?

VF: I think that women can offer something extra in this world [of wine], and make a business more complete. Naturally something has changed in recent years regarding the industry’s attitude towards women. Now the world of wine is more balanced.

EWS: As a woman of the wine profession, do you prefer being perceived as a wine professional or you do you like being a female in the wine profession?

VF: I like being considered a “winemaker,” as someone who works the land with love and passion, and with a great curiosity.

EWS: Who do you get advice from the purchase of wine?

VF: I am curious about the story behind every bottle of wine. I like to taste a little bit of everything I can because it’s a way to discover new things, but usually I choose a wine based on my personal taste.

EWS: Who do you admire and who would you have dinner with?

VF: I admire many people in this world. There isn’t just one person in particular that I would like to have dinner with. It would be nice to sit at a table with other winemakers to exchange views and share experiences.

Etna Wine School – Tribute: Women of Etna – Valeria Franco – Vino Scirto

EWS: What are the personal qualities that you have benefited most in your career?

VF: Career is a big word. Surely, the things that have helped me the most are my willpower and stubbornness, but also and especially Giuseppe.

EWS: Which wine (in your portfolio) is the most exclusive?

VF: We produce two wines: an Etna Rosso DOC that we’ve named A’Culonna – made from old vines of Nerellos Mascalese – and an IGT White Carricante named Don Pippinu. There is not one more exclusive because each vintage has its own unique qualities and this is how the wines differ the most.

EWS: How do you balance your life between home and work? How does your job as a professional wine affect the day-to-day life?

VF: It is not that difficult. We work for ourselves and we do all the work ourselves. In the morning we work in the vineyard and in the afternoon we take care of the rest.

EWS: What are your future plans? What you have left to achieve? What do you still want to do with wine?

VF: We hope that the future holds good things. Right now, we are busy growing our business, acquiring more land, and above all, building a new winery.

EWS: What advice do you have for a young woman starting in the profession of wine?

VF: Even if it seems difficult to pursue a goal, do not give up.

EWS: If you were not doing this, what you want to do instead?

VF: Before I got involved in winemaking, my dream was to work for a publishing house abroad. I was studying foreign languages ​​and literature. But to tell the truth, since I started to work the land and make wine I’ve realized that this may be exactly what I wanted to do. I am a very dynamic person. Who knows, maybe one day I might be able to combine the two!

A tasting of Etna wines –winenous–

Posted on by Steve Slatcher

A tasting of Etna wines

Ben (that’s Benjamin Spencer of Etna Wine Lab) had just shown us around the palmento at our hotel, and ferried us the short distance to the restaurant Da Antonio for this tasting.  It was from one palmento to another.  This restaurant used to be in the town of Randazzo, but had recently moved a few miles out into the country.  The tasting was upstairs in the old treading area of the beautifully restored palmento, where we met Valeria Càrasto, also of Etna Wine Lab, who arranged this tasting for us.  They did receive payment, but in the interests of full disclosure I should add that I very much doubt that what we paid covered the full cost of the event.


We soon got stuck into the pleasant task of tasting wines from the Etna region, starting with the whites.  I finished up with 20 tasting notes, so a bottle must have arrived after the initial line up shown above.  The tasting table picture was taken with permission from Valeria’s Facebook page and shows, left to right, Ben, my wife and me.  The only thing missing from the picture, but not from the event, was the wonderful finger-food provided by Da Antonio, and the wine producers.


Towards the lunchtime, and I think about halfway through the tasting, producer representatives arrived to say hello to us and meet each other – owners and family members of the smaller producers, and winemakers and marketers from the larger ones.  Left to right above are Mariarita Grasso, and Franco Calcagno with Valeria Càrasto.


And here is agronomist Giovanni Marletta with Alberto Falcone holding one of his bottles, and Patricia Tóth, winemaker at Planeta, in thoughtful discussion with Ben.


Finally, Ben with Agatino Failla, responsible for export sales at Benanti, and Valeria Franco and Giuseppe Scirto. We also met Antonino Destro, Peter Wiegner, and Irene Badalà, but sadly they will have to remain pictureless, and is as far as I can tell Irene does not have a website.

As ever, please do not take my tasting notes too seriously – they show my impressions on the day, no more no less – I hate to be seen as a judge of wines, but also feel I want to communicate my impressions.  Looking back on my notes I see that there are a lot more high scores than usual, which is measure of how I enjoyed the day, but which I fear might be a bit unfair to wines elsewhere in my blog.   The prices are approximate UK retail, or my best guess in the cases where they are not available over here.

Saxanigra, Vino Spumante, Metodo Classico, Brut, Destro, 2010, 12.0%, £20.00 
This is 100% Nerello Mascalese, with 36 months on lees. Pale greenish straw.  Very persistent surface foam, whose appearance reminded me of Asti. But appearance was the only similarity to Asti.  This was fresh, dry, and had high acidity.  Intense minerality and fruit. I think I would probably drink this now, but it could have aging potential ****

Isolonuda, Etna Bianco DOC, Destro, 2013, 12.5%, £13.00 
Carricante, with some Carraratto. Pale straw. Intense fruit, and with a distinctive spice. Clove perhaps? Medium acidity. Dry, intense, viscous. Excellent length. Drink now****

Mari, di Ripiddu, Etna Bianco DOC, Filippo Grasso, 2011, 12.5%, £13.00 
Carricante, with some Carraratto, 50% from Milo. Medium gold.  Don’t get a lot on the nose.  Medium acidity. Dry, with citrus fruit. Thought I detected oak, but there is none! Excellent length.  Drink now ****

Eruzione 1614, DOC, Sicilia Planeta, 2013, 14.0%, £14.00 
Carricante and 5% Riesling.  Medium gold.  Again, that spicy note that could be clove.  Medium acidity. A little off-dry I think? Citrus. Excellent length.  Drink now ***

Dayini, Bianco, Etna DOC, Terre di Trente  2012, 12.5%, £18.00
Carricante and Minnelo.  Medium gold. Reductive and farmyard – but in a good way. Medium acid. Dry, elegant, complex and subtle.  Drink now *****

Wiegner, Elisena, Sicilia IGT, 2011, 13.0%, £15.00
Fiano. Medium gold.  Dumb on the nose.  Medium acidity. Dry, elegant, some complexity. Something about this wine that I find difficult to characterise.  Drink now *****

Quantico, Etna Bianco DOP, Giulemi, 2012, 13.5%, £25.00
Carricante and Cateratto. Biodynamic, natural, and I’ve heard they do weird stuff with electromagnetism in the vineyards (which I am sure someone else told me was bad for cosmic energy, but what do I know).  Medium gold.  Nose is complex and had a sweet nature.  Medium high acidity. Definitely dry on the palate. Hugely intense. Apples.  Drink now *****

Eruzione 1614, Nerello Mascelese, Sicilia IGT, Planeta,  2011, 13.5%,  £14.00
Pale ruby garnet.  Slightly reductive red fruit.  Medium low acid. Medium low tannin.  Drink now **

Treterre, Sicilia IGT, Rosso, Wiegner, 2009, 14.0%, £15.00 
Nerello Mascalese.  Medium garnet.  Rasiny red fruit.  Medium high acid. Medium tannin. Raisiny, but fresh. Intense.  Drink now ****

Arcuria, Etna Rosso DOC, Calcagno,  2011, 14.0%, £17.00
Arcuria is the Contrada name.  2010 was the drier vintage in this Contrada, but 2011 is generally better. Medium garnet.  Dumb.  Spicy red fruit.  Medium high acid. Medium tannin. Good sweet intense fruit.  Drink now or keep ****

Arcuria, Etna Rosso DOC, Calcagno, 2010, 13.5%, £17.00
More tawny than the 2011.  More intense, and spicier,  but otherwise quite similar. Good intense fruit.  Drink now or keep *****

Capu, Chiurma, di Ripiddu, Etna Rosso DOC, Calderara Sottano, Filippo Grasso, 2011, 14.0%, £18.00
Intense garnet.  Smoky.  Reductive.  Medium acidity. Medium high tannin. Big, powerful and intense. Sweet fruit. Needs several years *****

Etna Rosso DOC, Azienda Agricola Irene Badalà, 2012, 14.5%, £20.00 
From a 3ha vineyard.  The wine is made at Terre Nere. Intense ruby garnet.  Intense sweet perfumed fruit.  Medium high acid. High tannin. As nose.  Very attractive wine.  Needs more time ******

A’Culonna, Scirto, Etna Rosso DOC, 2010, 14.5%, £30.00 
Medium pale garnet.  Fresh red fruit.  Medium acid. Medium tannin. As nose. Delicate and elegant.  Another great wine.  Drink now or keep ******

Nerello Mascalese, Sicilia IGT, Terre di Trente, 2008, 14.0%, £21.00
Medium pale garnet.  Reductive.  Medium acidity. Medium high tannin.  Metallic finish.  Maybe will come round with time, but I find this difficult to like now **

Quantico, Etna Rosso DOP, Giulemi, 2012, 13.0%,  £25.00 
Pale garnet. Gentle nose with blackcurrant.  Medium high acidity. Medium low tannin. Excellent length. Drink now, but no hurry *****

Aitho, Etna Rosso DOC, Azienda Falcone , 2012, 13.5%, £15.00 
3ha South-West of Etna, and high altitude vineyard. Medium pale garnet. Reductive, perhaps. Fresh aromatic fruit.  Medium high acid. Medium high tannin.  Needs more time***

Rosso di Gulfa, Etna Rosso DOC, Feudo di Gulfa, 2011, 14.0%, £25.00 
South-West of Etna. Medium pale ruby garnet.  Intense fresh fruit.  Medium high acid. Medium tannin. A little raisiny, but still refreshing. Excellent length. Spice. Good now, but will improve *****

Serra delle Contessa, Etna Rosso DOC, Benanti, 2004, 14.0%,  £31.00 
Prephylloxera. Nerello Mascelese and approx 20% Nerello Cappuchio. Medium pale garnet. Intense, mature, complex, aromatic. Medium high acid. Medium high tannin. Intense. Great now, but still scope for improvement ******

Pietra Marina, Etna Bianco Superiore DOC,  Benanti, 2009, 12.5%, £31.00
Pale greenish gold.  Complex, and not too intense on the nose.  Medium acidity. Dry. Intense, and complex in ways I find difficult to describe.  Good now, but will keep for several more years ******

For those that know Benanti maybe it is no great surprise that I liked their wines so much, especially considering they had the advantage of a fair amount of bottle age over the others at the tasting.  But I was really impressed by them, even though they were numbers 19 and 20 of a 20 wine tasting.  The white was even tasted “out of order”, after the reds.

My other two favourites (given all the caveats already expressed) were a couple of wines less familiar to UK drinkers.  They are pictured below to help you recognise them should you get a buying opportunity. The Scirto A’Culonna was difficult for me to adequately describe, but had a quiet elegance that I really liked.  While the Irene Badalà was very different, being very astringent and with intense and good quality fruit.  I really didn’t think the Badalà was ready for drinking now, but I took a bottle home with me and look forward to trying it again in several years time.


After my Etna trip, and this tasting in particular, I certainly understand Etna wines a lot better than before, but I still don’t think I have a great handle on the major grape varieties of Carricante and Nerello Mascelese.  Indeed I am beginning to doubt there is much of a handle to grasp.  I view them both as being like Chardonnay, in the sense that they are good quality, but seem to be able to adopt a broad variety of styles, but do not have easily recognised aromatics. The only style that I have not encountered in Etna wine is over-ripe flabbiness – they all have good structure, even reds with raisiny notes.  Where the comparison with Chardonnay breaks down is in the underlying cause of style variation.  That is, I suspect that the Etna varieties are more similar to Riesling and Pinot Noir in their ability to express terroir, if not the distinctiveness of their aromas. I would be interested to hear other views on that subject. I have certainly seen Nerello Mascelese aromatics compared to Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo, but I am personally not convinced.

Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you to Ben and Valeria of Etna Wine Lab.  They are great people, very knowledgeable, and responded very positively and flexibly to my requests for help to become better acquainted with Etna wines.

A Culonna Etna Rosso Doc (Gustodivino)

Pubblicato il 11 Marzo 2013

di Patrizia Saiola Un commento

Sorsi dell’Etna 2013. Mi sposto affascinata tra i banchi degustazione, quando la mia attenzione viene catturata da una coppia di giovani che, vicini, vicini, stanno li un po’ impacciati. Osservandoli si intuisce subito il forte legame che li fa stare così stretti l’uno con l’altra: l’amore.

Lui, Giuseppe Scirto, lei, Valeria Franco, insieme custodiscono, allevano e curano dal 2010, la piccola azienda agricola sulle pendici dell’Etna, Faro Giuseppina, ereditata dalla nonna di Giuseppe. L’azienda è a Passopisciaro, frazione del Comune di Castiglione di Sicilia. I vigneti si trovano in due contrade, Contrada di Mezzo e Contrada Porcaria, ad un altitudine di 650m s.l.m.

Filari in primavera

Passopisciaro è una delle contrade più note, da cui nascono alcuni tra i migliori vini del vulcano.  L’altitudine, le significative escursioni termiche, unite alle correnti ventose che lambiscono il pendio, favoriscono al meglio lo sviluppo delle componenti aromatiche di queste particolari uve. Antiche piante di Nerello Mascalese coltivate ad alberello, ancora oggi tra le migliori forme d’impianto per questa vite, insieme a pochi ceppi di altre varietà autoctone: Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante, Grecanico e Minnella.
Tutte le viti sono allevate senza fertilizzanti chimici e senza pesticidi, la raccolta dei grappoli viene effettuata rigorosamente a mano, già  dalla prima settimana di Ottobre. Giuseppe e Valeria, curano personalmente la vigna. Lui sorride  mentre racconta di quanto la sua Valeria sia una tipa tosta, non si tira mai indietro davanti alle difficoltà e i sacrifici che la vigna richiede. Bene penso: è forte come la sua “muntagna” anche se l’aspetto è esile.

Vinificano il loro vino con dedizione, “A Culonna”, ovvero la colonna. Chiedo cosa e perché li abbia portati alla scelta di un nome cosi insolito. “A Culonna” è un monumento storico posto al centro del paese di Passopisciaro, datato 1870/80 circa,  racconta Giuseppe. In pratica è un antico segnale stradale, che regola uno dei più importanti incroci siciliani. Un obelisco, che ospita tre facciate sulle quali sono scolpite le direzioni stradali, da e per Milazzo, Taormina, Randazzo e Nicosia e la strada statale, Palermo Cerda. Edificato totalmente in pietra lavica, sulla sua sommità, vi era un tempo posto anche un piccolo lampione ad olio per essere maggiormente visibile anche di notte. Per Giuseppe è un ricordo e un punto di riferimento importantissimo, poiché, attorno “a culonna” si svolgeva un tempo, non molto lontano, anche la vita sociale ed economica del paese. I contadini, intorno all’obelisco, si riunivano, dopo il lavoro nei campi, all’imbrunire, per vendere i propri prodotti agricoli e il loro vino. Giuseppe ne è stato spettatore attento, grazie a suo nonno che lo portava con se. Questo è il motivo per cui ha scelto il nome A Culonna, per il suo vino.

A Culonna Etna Rosso Doc

E’ prodotto con Nerello Mascalese e una piccola percentuale di Nerello Cappuccio e rientra nel disciplinare “Etna Rosso Doc”. Fermenta con lieviti indigeni in vasche di acciaio, successivamente matura in botti grandi di rovere di secondo passaggio. Sono appena 3000 bottiglie il loro piccolo tesoro, e racchiudono in loro tutta la turbolenza e la territorialità dell’Etna. Ho assaggiato il 2011. E’ rosso rubino scarico, vivace e brillante. Complesso al naso, stuzzica con frutta rossa e carnosa, sono fragoline e amarene, ma tra tutte spicca la verve del melograno. Come un iniziale e scomposto accordo sinfonico, erba, fiori e spezie dolci formano vorticose spirali odorose gradevolissime al naso,  giunge infine un’intransigenza di stampo balsamico che chiude con eleganza. In bocca è intenso, fresco e di congrua mineralità. Sostenuto da una fittissima trama tannica che persiste piacevolmente. Intrigante.
Giuseppe e Valeria hanno appreso dalle generazioni passate l’amore e il rispetto per la vigna, e oltre il vino producono anche dell’ottimo olio di oliva.


Vini Scirto
Az. Agr. Faro Giuseppina
Via Panebianco,13 Passopisciaro
Castiglione di Sicilia (CT) 95030

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