A DIP IN A VINEYARD

Barbara Fassio

vigneti sul mare

MARITIME WINES

They are white, although sun-kissed; they are fresh, although they grow in high temperatures; they are the maritime wines, as varied and numerous as one would expect in a nation that for 7500 kilometres is washed by the sea. 

It is not easy to grow on sand, a soil lacking in many nutrients, in areas where water supply is often scarce, but which enjoy a climate moderated by sea water currents. The vine resists drought and the Mediterranean climate is congenial to it: it is certainly dry during the summer season, with risks of excessive rain and humidity that can cause various diseases, but it enjoys cool winters, never freezing. Some varieties give thanks, in this terroir they give their best: did you know that one PDO out of three, in Italy, is cultivated overlooking the sea? 

brindisi in barca

SAPORE DI SALE, SAPORE DI MARE (TASTE OF SALT, TASTE OF SEA)

Not only on the skin and lips, as Gino Paoli sang in a romantic song that smells of summer: saltiness is in fact the main characteristic of maritime wines. They are generally wines that do not stand out because of their particular acidity, but the sapidity certainly makes them unique and clearly recognisable. Although it is not really scientifically possible to ascertain a correspondence between the organoleptic sensations of the wine and the marine characteristics of the vineyard, they are generally distinguishable wines by certain common traits and which you will love if your character is #Outgoing. Not only fresh and drinkable, but in recent years they are showing good ageing capabilities thanks to the work of a few producers eager to experiment with the action of time.

Vineyards that express multiple facets are often equated because they share similar cultivation choices and the prevalence of native grape varieties. As much as in the mountains one speaks of heroic cultivation, the same is often done for cultivations kissed by the sea breeze: difficulties dictated by the type of soil or location, vineyards overlooking the sea, but terraced on hillsides with not always gentle slopes. 

Wine-growing regions with a Mediterranean maritime climate are characterised by moderate temperatures, which become very hot during the grape growing season. The annual temperature range is lower than inland, but at the same time, water shortages during the grape growing season require hard work in managing the heat. The action of the sun gives warmth to the soil, which is then cooled by frequent sea breezes: soil and climate interact to enrich the aromatic components of the grapes

It can only be the producers who tell the story of each terrain, who show how each cultivar develops: you cannot miss the opportunity to taste wine in the places where it is born. Here are 3 wine cellars along the coast that tell the story of the contact between land and water to add to your stops this summer.

PRODUCTS THAT TASTE OF SEA, VOLCANO AND SUN

When one thinks of the sea, one often thinks of holidays, and how can one not wish for the chance to combine the tranquillity of a stay in the blue Tyrrhenian Sea on top of an underwater volcano with the tasting of a good wine? Nestled between vineyards by the sea and fields of lentils is the Hibiscus farm: here you can discover the secrets of a wonderful island, Ustica. A sincere welcome will advise you how best to explore this land, the summit of a submerged volcano, 36 miles off the north coast of Sicily. If you are a lover of breathtaking seabeds and underwater flora and fauna unique in the Mediterranean, you can enjoy scuba diving in the seas of Italy’s first marine reserve.

costiera e vigneti

Wild and unspoilt, Ustica will impress you with its jagged coastline and black volcanic rocks. Immersed in the intense colours of the vegetation, you can cross it comfortably on your bicycle.

If after sports sessions and visits or relaxing days at the beach you want to enjoy other unique experiences, the Hibiscus family offers you the chance to appreciate an unforgettable sunset wine tasting. A visit to the vineyard, the wine cellar and the Museum of Rural Civilisation is an experience that will introduce you to a new side of the island.

If your favourite wines are #Dreamer, you can enjoy very fresh rosé wines with delicate aromas of rose petals and violets: the unmistakable tanginess will make you think of the sea in front of you.

As they tell us, ‘the cellar is the beating heart of the winery, the wines express the proximity of the sea and the character of the land of volcanic origin, beaten by the sun and the wind’. Maritime wines and indigenous vineyards already attract you? Not only this: lentils from Ustica presidium Slow Food and extra virgin olive oil DOP Valli Trapanesi are other products that the company takes care of and that you can take home after this unforgettable experience.

A STORY THAT SPEAKS OF AUTHENTICITY

In a corner in the extreme south of Abruzzo, where the Pecorino, Trebbiano and Montepulciano vines are permeated by the salty, constant wind of the Adriatic Sea, you will find the Fontefico winery capable of telling the story of the charm of its land with its wines.

Here the care for the vines is extreme: each wine in fact comes from a single vineyard, giving you the chance to taste specific grapes, their terroir and the processing chosen for each one. In this organic farm, they have chosen to cultivate only indigenous grapes: the tasting that you can book will introduce you to cultivars that elsewhere are hardly ever vinified in purity. Overlooking the Gulf of Vasto, however, you can also enjoy different experiences: for the most curious and intrepid, in fact, courses in typical cuisine are organised and, above all, the tourist grape harvest. In this Fontefico offers a unique opportunity to ‘get your hands dirty picking grapes, savour the scent and, at the end, when hunger arrives…you are seated under the Pergola Abruzzese of montepulciano, with typical dishes from the farmer’s breakfast during harvest time’. We can’t wait to try it!

And if you get the urge to eat typical products on these routes between the rows and the coasts, you can’t miss our recommendations for truly unique pairings between wine and fish.

A MOVING BEAUTY

As Stefania Auci recounts (in ‘The Lions of Sicily’), the Sicilian coast is an alternation of rocks and sandy beaches. In this varied ecosystem, with its changing morphology and rich landscape, it is ‘the sand that carries within it grains of salt, that has the scent of the sea. It is it who gives that dry flavour, that confusing uncertainty, that barely hinted taste of the sea‘ to wines that would otherwise be less unique and unmistakable. 

In this land, an island with such a rich morphology, lies Tenuta Baroni. As close to Noto as it is to the sea, in the Pachino area, Baglio di Pianetto welcomes its visitors to the heart of the winery, to discover the vineyards and its cellar. A wine tasting to discover both better-known varieties, such as the prince of Sicilian grapes, Nero d’Avola, and organic wines resulting from the union of several grape varieties.  

If your character is #Brilliant or #Playful you will find wines that will satisfy your desire for acidity and innate elegance thanks to characteristic grape varieties such as Grillo or Catarratto.

In this corner of Sicily, mild temperatures ensure important harvests: the sun, during the day, impregnates the soil with heat, which is then released during the night and mitigated by frequent sea breezes. This climatic component is the key to the uniqueness of these wines. Staying in these lands could not be tastier!

But if you are still not satisfied with these visits and would like to continue an experiential journey into the universe of wine to get to know the territory and culture of each place better, don’t miss our advice in this article.

It is said that wine is a product of the earth and man: today we can say that this is not enough, even the sea sometimes becomes the undisputed protagonist of the authenticity of some bottles.

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