June 6, 2016

Visiting Barone di Villagrande Sicily

By In Visiting Sicily
The estate of Barone di Villagrande have an enviable position on the lower slopes of Mount Etna. Just 700 metres above sea level they plant their vines in a large, natural, amphitheatre. This position, benefiting also from sea breezes, gives near perfect grape-growing conditions. It is all organic here. From the grassed roof of the winery there is a wonderful view of this amphitheatre – not that I managed to take a decent photo of it (the sun was just too bright) and you can see the sea!

The estate has been held by the same family, Nicolosi, since 1727, although I believe the winery itself dates from the 1850’s. There are 14 hectares of vines locally plus a further 2 on the island of Salina for those who like specifics; although even after countless vineyard visits I still cant visualise a ‘hectare’. In this portion of Sicily the grapes are Carricante (white) and Nerello Mascalese (red) (and there are Nerello Mantellato and Nerello Cappuccio to confuse things slightly). Villagrande also harvest a little Merlot and Chardoonay, for no respectable Sicilian winery can do without a smattering of international varieties. I don’t think there was a single wine that I didn’t enjoy. The Etna Bianco Superiore, in all its steel fermented precision is Carricante “in purezza”, has an edge of honey amongst the floral and flinty-ness (Wine Society Villagrande Etna Bianco at £25 a bottle).

I loved the Fiore de Villagrande, its richer, smooth style being right up my strada. The addition of Chardonnay to the Carricante doesn’t diminish the native grapes characteristics but adds depth and richness. While the Etna Rosato (Nerello Mascalese 90% and Carricante) found favour with the others at the table, I wasn’t terribly enamoured by but the Merlot/Nerello Mascalese blend, Sciara, is a food-loving beaut with plenty of deep red berry flavours to get those taste buds tingling. Sadly I cant seem to locate a UK listing for these wines. If only I can succumbed to temptation and purchased a couple of bottles while there.

Photo Gallery: Visiting Barone di Villagrande Sicily

“We believe that the environment that surrounds us is the most precious heritage that we possess, and working with full respect towards its delicate balances has always been our aim.

Our intervention is limited to assisting the plants, first, and then the grapes, in an emotional journey.

The wines that come to life in our wine cellars are expressions of the territory, the vines and the vintage.

We are likewise aware that mankind, with his work and his choices and by his skilful leading, is capable, with nature as his accomplice, of unique and delicious creations.

In the elegance and fragrance of our wines, is concealed our experience, our land and our pride.”

Barone di Villegrande winery and estate welcome visitors by appointment; tours, tastings and accommodation are all available. Our visit was arranged via Esplora Tours as part of their Sicilian Wine Adventure.

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