In recent years, Sicily has gained renewed prominence in the Italian wine industry. For a while, several people in and outside of the industry looked down on Sicily due to some of its producers churning out large volumes of low quality wine. Unfortunately, this lead to the wide majority of high-quality producers getting tarred with a brush that they didn’t deserve to be tarred with.
Today, the best Sicilian producers battle hard to shake this undeserved label. In doing so, they’ve managed to re-establish Sicily as a wine region to be respected.
The discovery of an ancient jar that shows traces of wine has also helped to raise the city’s reputation. Upon this discovery, we can see that Sicily was one of the first, if not the first, places to host humans who made wine.
When looking at the many Sicilian producers who work in the Italian wine industry today, it’s difficult to choose one on which to shine our spotlight. But we’ve decided to take a look at a producer that has a deep dedication to the sustainability of its land and the quality of its products.
This week, we look at one of the best wines to come from the Firriato winery. But first, let’s take a bit of a history lesson.
If there is one word that describes the Firriato winery, it is pride. The company takes great pride in everything that it does and it has consistently flown the banner for Sicilian wines since its formation.
The company started with a clear aim of creating great wines that reflected the Sicilian land like no other. This clear mission statement gives all who work with the company a firm understanding of what it hopes to achieve. This is not a wine company that will churn out high volumes when they’re not warranted. Instead, it will focus on creating great wines that keep its reputation intact.
Located in Trapani, the winery is ideally located in an area that has several centuries of winemaking and vine growing history behind it. That means that, in many ways, the history of the Sicilian wine industry is also the history of the company. It has built on the groundwork of those great Italian winemakers who came centuries before them and it uses the very same vineyards that Sicilian producers used during the region’s heyday.
The company itself was founded in the 1980s by a man named Salvatore Di Gaetano. While he perhaps did not have a huge amount of experience in the world of wine, Di Gaetano did have a great love for Sicily. One day, he decided to return to his home in the hopes of creating a wine that would be the perfect reflection of the stunning visual of Sicily that he always carried around with him.
In short, Di Gaetano founded the company with one goal – to create great wines that exuded passion from every bottle.
From the outset, the company gambled on the qualities of the vines that had grown in Sicily for centuries. They were not in the business of introducing new grape varieties to the Sicilian landscape. Instead, they wanted to prove to the world the quality of the grapes that were already growing in the region.
To do that, they understood that all must start with great respect for their land. From the outset, the company has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to sustainable farming practices. This has allowed it to produce wines of exceptional quality that also have a unique flavour to them that can only come from the terroir.
As well as evolving into one of the largest wine producers in all of Sicily, this land-centric philosophy has also helped the company to produce an array of prestige wines that stand head and shoulders above the poor quality wines that gave Sicily such a bad reputation during the time that Di Gaetano founded his business.
A Firriato wine is one that you understand and recognise from the very first sip that you taste. They’re unmistakably products of the Sicilian land and of vines that have been nurtured to in good health over centuries.
But the company hasn’t limited itself to the product of traditional Sicilian wines. While still using the grapes that have been used in the region for centuries, Firriato has also made an effort to craft and introduce new wines to the Italian public. In doing so, they’ve become a driving force for Sicilian wine production and one of the most influential wine companies in the region.
To maintain this quality output, the company had undertaken several expansions and added new vineyards to its roster. Through it all, Firriato has never once wavered on its ambition of creating great wines using quality grapes.
Today, the company is in something of a transitionary period. Salvatore is preparing to hand over the reins of the company to his own daughter Irene. Along with her husband, Federico, Irene aims to continue moving the family dream forward and will hopefully build upon the foundations that her father laid.
Firriato has played a direct role in the renewed appreciation that the international community has for Sicilian wine. Now, let’s take a look at a top-quality wine that comes from the company’s prestigious line-up.
Of all of the wines that Firriato produces, it is perhaps the Harmonium with which it is most closely associated. The 2013 vintage was a particularly special example, and it received praise from many quarters upon its unveiling.
This Italian red wine opens with a deep ruby colouring that feels almost impenetrable to the human eye. Just the smallest flashes of violet travel around the rim.
You may spot those violet flashes as you bring the wine to your nose. You’ll instantly spot notes of red fruits, such as cherry, along with black fruits, such as blackberry and blackcurrant. More refined notes creep out from under the surface, with the scents of tobacco and dark chocolate being particularly prominent.
To the taste, you instantly recognise the mineral qualities that Firriato imbues into all of its wines. This is a true reflection of the land that bore it. But the wine itself is also spectacularly balanced. It has a softness that makes it accessible. Yet it still carries a persistence and complexity that mark it out as a wine of great quality.