Vinding Montecarrubo

 - Contrada Case Nuove, Melilli (SR) - Sicily. About 300 metres above the sea level close to Climiti Mountains, Melilli overlooks the Megara bay and the petrol-chemical district of Augusta-Priolo, in the Siracusa province. This is an area of great archaeological and naturalistic interest which, unfortunately, hosted also one of the largest industrial sites in Europe. Today the area is going through an extensive, yet very slow, reclamation plan.

Who - The Danish Peter Vinding-Diers has been a globetrotter, starting his career as a war correspondent reporting from Vietnam, then ending up making first-class wines in South Africa (Rustenberg), then moving to Bordeaux (Domaine La Grave, Château de Landiras, Château Rahoul). Together with Brian Crosser he discovered the R2 saccharomyces cerevisiae strain. He is also behind the Tokaji Renaissance operated by the Royal Tokaji Wine Company in Hungary. Let's not forget the hints he gave to his nephew Peter Sisseck (Pingus) to start a new venture in Ribera del Duero. Let's also stress that both of his sons are involved in the wine business: Hans in Patagonia (Bodega Noemia) and Anders in Extremadura (Bodega de Mirabel).

When - In 2005 Peter and his wife Susie bought the Montecarrubo estate from an old woman in the countryside of Melilli. In 2006, Vinding-Diers started leasing three hectares of 20 y.o. Syrah vines from the nearby Ispica, which he used to produce the first few vintages of his wines. In the meantime, he started to plant the nearly virgin Montecarrubo plot with a Massal Selection of Syrah vines supplied from Rhone Valley by his friend Pierre Marie Guillaume.

What - Montecarrubo sits on a few-millions year old extinct volcano. It was a piece of land grazed by sheep and full of rocks and boulders. Few olive and almond trees. The limestone rich Ibei mountain range around. Syrah has been planted here at a density of 5,000 vines per hectare with bush training (alberello) system and biodynamic cultivation.  The Grecale wind coming from East helps cooling the site down even during the hot Sicilian summers. There is a first (Il Carrubo) and a second wine (Il Piccolo) produced here, with few cases of a special cuvee (Suzanne, named after Peter's wife). All of them made of Syrah, with small and variable percentages of Nero d'Avola. Around 30.000 the bottles produced every year. They are commercialised around the World but, strangely, barely available in Sicily or Italy. And I repeat "strangely" because the back label says ...the wine will accompany the "Italian Kitchen"... where the quotation marks maybe wants to warn you that this "Italian Kitchen" is abroad??
I wish Sicilian wine was consumed much more in Sicily, enhancing tourism, and being appreciated with local food and local culture/traditions.

Why - Who knows what really brings a successful international winemaker to put roots on a remote corner of Sicily. For sure it's an enchanting island, with amazing culture and history and a frustratedly overwhelming potential. It seems one of the reasons the Vinding-Diers chose this little piece of land was because it looked like the perfect spot to grow great Syrah.  

VINDING MONTECARRUBO - Il Carrubo 2013 (4.5/5)

It appears, smells and tastes rich and cool. A very evident mineral and flinty component enriches the dark fruit core, with cedar, mediterranean herbs and spices completing the bouquet. Very young, yet very distinctive, this wine has been fermented using indigenous yeasts and matured in a mix of Bordeaux oak barriques and larger barrels. Different coopers barrels are used to impart several flavours to the final blend.
It is smooth and velvety on the palate, yet fresh and with moderate alcohol content (13.5%). Admiring balance. The persistence is good, although there is a lack of that lingering fruit tannins that support the longest finishes. I suppose it's a paramount task to find the ideal phenolic and technological maturity of grapes in a quite warm climate, especially with not very old vines.

Overall it's a great effort, which tastes differently to any other Sicilian Syrah. It reminds me of some of Alfredo Arribas Priorat's wines. It's very classy and polished. Modern and perfectly made, yet not betraying his own Terroir. To my taste, this is one of the most pleasant Syrah you can possibly find in the whole Italy.


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