Our Moscato vines were planted on land that my grandmother left to my mother. The land consisted of 10 hectares of black alluvial soil on a saline substrate, located at sea level a few hundred metres from the sandy shore in contrada Burgio, an area well known for the excellence of its wines. My mother held the land in a share-cropping arrangement – a mezzadria – until the 1980s, when small land owners and share-croppers abandoned the vineyards for more lucrative crops such as vegetables and greenhouse produce.
At the time I worked at the Cantina Sperimentale (experimental wine cellar) in Noto where, among other activities, we were involved in a project to relaunch Moscato di Noto, one of the first and most prestigious Sicilian DOC wines. It was here that I got the idea of planting a white Moscato vine on a section of our land. I proposed the idea to mother and father and they agreed. I always enjoyed doing business with my parents, it was something that both challenged and united us. I set to work on the project straight away. I selected grafts from local vines that were over 50 years old, because I wanted a white Moscato vineyard that was typical of this part of Noto.
At the end of the 1980s we planted the vines. I was confident that we would get good results and an amazing product. The unusual thing about this vineyard is its minerality and salinity, due to its proximity to the marshes and the sea, which make this particular Moscato special and unique among local Moscato wines.
In those days, conventional growing produced grapes of low acidity and high alcohol content, but the new trend was all about greater freshness. To achieve this I decided to reduce the number of plants per hectare. I designed a system, modern by the standards of the day, of 3200 plants per hectare. For the sweet Moscato I chose the method of drying the grapes on the vine, using the technique of twisting the stalks on around 50% of the grape clusters. In this way I reduced the flow of sap, and encouraged a better flow through the clusters that had not been twisted, while the other clusters underwent a slow but steady drying, without exposure to direct sunlight and therefore without loss of too much of the primary fragrances.
I am deeply attached to this vineyard. It has a special place in my heart because of what it represents for me and my parents, and what it represents for me and Valeria – our love affair began the same year the vineyard was planted. In 2021 part of the vineyard will be uprooted because of its age. The emotional significance of this for me needs no description. I walk among my vines and I bid them farewell. Everything must end in order to be continued.
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