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A Sicilian State of Mind

by Jane Augustine

Buy this collection 3 bottles

Winemaker Cesare Fulvio

Buy this collection 3 bottles

Buy this collection 3 bottles

Winemaker Cesare Fulvio
Winemaker Cesare Fulvio

I’m dreaming of Sicily this December. It warms my bones and brightens my mood to picture myself there, in summertime, surrounded by the sea, the sky, and lush canopies of vineyards growing in ashen soil. Here are three wines from the island to put you, too, in a Sicilian state of mind.

2018 Cerasuolo di Vittoria


Italy |  Sicily

Discount Eligible $25.00

I’m not sure that “yummo!” is an official tasting note, but that’s what I texted to a colleague, with a snap of this wine’s label. The 2018 is a bright and energetic vintage, velvety and fresh, and I quite enjoyed drinking it on its own. The blend of Frappato (a grape known for tasting of wild strawberry) and Calabrese (which has an earthier profile) is a perfect marriage, balanced and complete. I wanted for nothing while I had a glass of this in my hand . . . you might say I found peace in it.

2019 Vino Rosso “I nove fratelli”

Masseria del Pino

Italy |  Sicily

Discount Eligible $69.00

Recent investment in Mount Etna has seen the arrival of ambitious producers from all around the globe armed with significant financial resources and modern winemaking techniques. While much has changed on the volcano over the last two decades, pockets remain where time seems to stand still. Driving down the dusty road to Masseria del Pino, Cesare Fulvio and Federica Turillo’s little farm upslope from Randazzo, it is hard to tell which century we are living in. This is Etna in all its pastoral serenity, with only the sights, scents, and sounds of the mountain to stimulate the senses.
     This simple, peaceful lifestyle is precisely what the couple envisioned when they settled here in 2005. Catania natives, they left their jobs—Cesare as a commercial air pilot, Federica as an archery instructor—to cultivate the two hectares of terraced vineyards at Contrada Pino, elevation 800 meters. They renovated the property’s ancient palmento, a traditional farmhouse featuring an old press and large fermentation vats made of lava stone, and began to work the 120-year-old vines, plus some olive trees and vegetable gardens, according to organic and biodynamic principles.
     Upon bringing in the grapes—Nerello Mascalese with a bit of Nerello Cappuccio—Cesare and Federica stomp them by foot in these vats. An open-air fermentation begins, then the must is ultimately pressed off into old 500-liter tonneaux, where the wine stays until bottling. These primitive techniques have changed little since vines first appeared in Contrada Pino in the ninth century, and one can imagine this is what the wine might have tasted like back then. It is a profound rosso, richly flavored with black cherry, balsamic spices, and a smokiness that recalls the fresh-laid-tar suggestions often found in young Barolo. Its intensely gripping, yet silty-fine tannin is a trademark of wines from Contrada Pino. Cesare proudly remembers when an elderly local identified his red in a blind tasting: “This wine hails from Contrada Pino!” the man exclaimed. For Cesare and Federica, there could be no better compliment.

In 2017, Mauro Cutuli and Mariangela Prestifilippo released their first wines under the Grottafumata label, until then known for its stunning olive oil from the slopes of Mount Etna. The fourth vintage of their Carricante-based bianco is a lighter, more ethereal expression of Etna than previous releases, a veritable cloud of fresh-pressed stone fruits, yellow wildflowers, and aromatic herbs. It was bottled unfiltered to preserve all its succulent flesh.

More from the April 2024 Newsletter