Palari Faro 2009
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 91-93 Points
After inheriting his grandfather’s estate in the heart of the Faro zone, Architect Geraci intended to restore the 18th century villa that crowned it. However, food critic Luigi Veronelli had researched the area’s native wines and urged him to focus on what he saw from the villa itself – his grandfather’s vineyards. They were in need of their own restoration, and in that lay the very salvation of the Faro DOC.
Mr. Geraci’s winemaking philosophy is as simple and straightforward as his preferred architectural design: the wines must be of the highest quality attainable, using native grapes exclusively, to attain a wine that is quintessentially Sicilian and speaks with a sense of both this special place and its unique fruit.
Just as the restoration of an ancient edifice brings new life to the area surrounding it, the success of Palari have had their implication for Italian wines in general, Sicilian wines in particular, and specifically Nerello Mascalese. Journalist Tom Maresca declared that “Until Mr. Geraci made a success of it and growers on Etna began taking it seriously, Nerello Mascalese languished, just another old-fashioned grape that the benighted contadini liked. Now connoisseurs speak of it respectfully as one of the bright lights of Sicilian viniculture.”
A large, geographically and climatically diverse island, just off the toe of Italy, Sicily has long been recognized for its fortified Marsala wines. But it is also a wonderful source of diverse, high quality red and white wines. Steadily increasing in popularity over the past few decades, Italy’s fourth largest wine-producing region is finally receiving the accolades it deserves and shining in today's global market.
Though most think of the climate here as simply hot and dry, variations on this sun-drenched island range from cool Mediterranean along the coastlines to more extreme in its inland zones. Of particular note are the various microclimates of Europe's largest volcano, Mount Etna, where vineyards grow on drastically steep hillsides and varying aspects to the Ionian Sea. The more noteworthy red and white wines that come from the volcanic soils of Mount Etna include Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (reds) and Carricante (whites). All share a racy streak of minerality and, at their best, bear resemblance to their respective red and white Burgundies.
Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red variety, and is great either as single varietal bottling or in blends with other indigenous varieites or even with international ones. For example, Nero d'Avola is blended with the lighter and floral, Frappato grape, to create the elegant, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, one of the more traditional and respected wines of the island.
Grillo and Inzolia, the grapes of Marsala, are also used to produce aromatic, crisp dry whites. Pantelleria, a subtropical island belonging to the province of Sicily, specializes in Moscato di Pantelleria, made from the variety locally known as Zibibbo.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.