Lying on the hillsides above Messina and overlooking the straits that separate the island from Calabria,  the Faro DOC dates to ancient times; yet until recently, its very existence on Sicily’s eastern shore hung in the balance. 

Archaeological finds show evidence of thriving wine production here since the fourteenth century BC.   At the beginning of the 20th century, the scourge of phylloxera significantly reduced production until it reached a low point in 1985 and risked disappearing altogether.  This is when the renowned Italian food and wine critic Luigi Veronelli decided to act. 

~ The small Faro DOC can be seen in the upper right corner of this map ~

Veronelli had researched the area’s native wines and was distressed by the situation. He reached out to a seemingly unlikely source, architect Salvatore Geraci, who was busy earning a well-deserved reputation for monumental restoration projects across Sicily and southern Italy at the time. But as a native of Messina, Geraci had penned an emotional article about Faro after inheriting his grandfather’s estate in the heart of the zone. Geraci intended to restore the 18th century villa that crowned it, but when Veronelli read Geraci’s article he urged him to focus on what he saw from the villa itself – his grandfather’s vineyards. Thus lay the very salvation of the Faro DOC.

~ Architect turned winemaker, Salvatore Geraci ~

Today we’re covering the crowned jewel of Salvtore Geraci’s estate – the 2011 Azienda Palari Rosso del Soprano.   As trendy as it is ancient, this unique wine embodies the spirit of Sicily in a way that Geraci insists upon.  Crafted from ancient, indigenous varietals, the wine is 60% Nerello Mascalese, 20% Nerello Capuccio, 15% Nocera, 2% Acitana, 2% Jacche and 1% Cor e’ Palumba.  Getting these percentages from Salvatore Geraci was no easy feat, and no, I have no idea what some of these grapes contribute to the blend.  His dismissive wave of the hand was both comforting and funny as he stated “the blend isn’t important. it’s the wine that’s important.”   And he’s right. 

The 2011 Rosso del Soprano is unique.   The name literally means “red from the heights” and it’s a not so subtle nod to the optimal location of Geraci’s 80 year old vineyards, some 1,500 feet above sea level where daytime temperatures ripen the grapes and night time swings leave refreshing acidity in the grapes.  

In the glass, the wine is a medium violet color, but don’t let that fool you; for what awaits is a full bodied treasure.  On the nose the wine exhibits crushed wild cherry aromas with pepper, exotic spices and floral undertones.  It’s engaging to smell.   On the palate, the wine is robust, with a full bodied core of black fruit backed by spicy pepper, mineral driven earth notes, and hints of roasted coffee. It’s long and layered and backed by fresh acidity with ample tannins to frame the picture.
The wine is fermented in stainless steel  with indigenous yeast strains and then transferred to 2 year old large French barrels where it rests for 12 months before a final year in bottle prior to release. This is the very future of Sicilian viticulture and may very well be the best wine from Sicily that I have ever tasted.  94 points; average retail around $40.  Disclosure:  This bottle was an importer provided sample.

~ The 2011 Palari Rosso del Soprano is one of the best wines coming from Sicily ~

E vero!

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