2017 CANTINA MARILINA 'Sikele' Grecanico
Region: Noto < Sicily < Italy
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming, white calcareous soils; 13 hours on the skins then 6 months in cement before bottling, unfined/unfiltered, with 20ppm SO2; 12% ABV
Winemaker: sisters Marilina Paternò & Federica Paternò
After 25 years making wine for other people, in 2000 Angelo Paternò pounced on a piece of land in the southeastern Sicilian province of Siracusa that he declared one of the best viticulture areas he'd seen in Sicily (the area is also a UNESCO world heritage site). Today his daughters, Marilina and Federica, run the show with Angelo still helping in the cellar.
Deeply influenced by Frank Cornelissen, Etna’s godfather of natural winemaking, the Paternò family has always farmed organically and made wine with minimal intervention in the cellar (no additives, low sulfur). They’ve created a vibrant polyculture to ensure ecosystem stability, with only 35 out of the 60 hectares on the property planted with vines; the rest of the land is used for mixed farming. And
they’re making insanely fresh, quaffable and expressive natural wines - a rarity in this land of bulk Nero d’Avola and flabby whites (it gets hot here).
This is the sisters' skin-contact white, but it really just gets a fleeting kiss from the skins -- 13 hours -- rather than days, as with many orange wines. But that's all it needs to develop its lovely texture and complexity. It smells like pine trees and their resin - like those umbrella pines baking in the Mediterranean sun that you find all over the Sicilian coast. So basically this wine smells like the coast of Sicily in the summer -- not a bad start. But the palate delivers as well - rich and sunny tasting, it tastes like juicy peach and orange juice with a hint of almond and ginger and a briny saltiness on the finish. Not a huge amount of acid, but enough to keep the ripe fruit flavors from becoming cloying. This is a lovely beginner orange wine to drink with everything from veggie dishes to grilled chicken to a killer cheese plate.