THIS IS OUR LAND
Villagrande is not only the noble title: is the name of the contrada in Milo where my family has been living for more than 300 years. We are on the eastern slope of Etna that overlooks Taormina and the Ionian Sea. We are at 700 metres above the sea level. Here the climate is far from being Sicilian. Here the climate is Etnean. Temperatures and precipitations are affected by the volcanic activity and the altitude. In autumn and winter, we reach ten times more rain than the rest of Sicily. In winter and at the beginning of the germination, minimum temperatures can reach values below 0° C being dangerous for the vines. In summer maximum temperatures are never as high as in the rest of Sicily, and rain is almost absent. This absence of humidity is accentuated by the field’s slope, deeply draining due to its igneous origin. The huge thermal excursion between day and night is a real blessing for these grapes as it reaches even 30° C. This results in a lower alcohol content compared to the average of Sicilian wines, with a peculiar richness in fixed acidity and extracts.
It’s too easy to say “unique climate and terroir conditions” and, in fact, there are many that say so. However, come and walk on these vineyards. What do you see? High above you the snowy peaks of the volcano, forests around you and the sea at the end of the slopes in front of you. Dark land beneath your feet. There are no other vineyards like those around the world. Those are mountain vineyards, surrounded by oak and chestnut forests that originates intense and recognisable scents. Their roots go deep in volcanic born fields. The land of the Etna Bianco DOC Superiore. Rich in iron and copper with a good potassium, phosphorus and magnesium level, little nitrogen and with absent calcium. Perfect fields for the Carricante, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio vines, that spread themselves on well sun-exposed terraces on a surface of 18 hectares. We train those vines with the Guyot and the Spurred Cordon. “It’s curious that we use to say that we train the vines, as if you were talking about a creature. In fact, though these plants absorb the stories and the teachings of the people, of the soil, of the weather of the terroir and its conditions. In our vineyards, we want to exalt the soul of the territory. We only use donkey natural fertilizer that comes from a farm next to our forest. As tutors, we adopt Etnean chestnut poles, the same chestnut wood with which the barrels for our Etna Rosso are made. To make red wine here means to face bigger challenges than in the rest of Sicily, that’s why all of this is very stimulating. On the best vintages, with warm and sunny Summers and dry Septembers, the reds reward us with an enviable elegance, that reminds instinctively to the one you can find in wines from historically renowned areas. History is also a base for our future projects. We are recovering old vineyards to reproduce wines that belong to the heritage of this land. The so-called “Cru”s, we call them “Contrada’s wines”
This is our land. And we believe in its strength