Santo Iolo: “Our wine tours, Pantelleria!”

Today Alessandra Buffetti who, along with her husband, owns and manages Santoiolo Winery is not going to talk about herselves or her winery. With her, we will travel by recalling the recent “wine tour” in Pantelleria.

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Pantelleria, a small Italian island lost in the Sicilian Channel

“The walls, made of black lava stone, of which Pantelleria is scattered in its terraces, are an architectural piece of work that is somehow forgotten. They summarize, in the way they are built, a very special building technique, soil engineering, optimization of water, sun and wind use and, last but not least, they are of high aesthetic value. These walls give a strong characterization to the whole island, which appears, at the very first glance from the plane, like a colossal sculpture placed in the boundless sea.

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Terraces and stone walls facing the sea

Dominica and Salvatore Ferrandes are experts when it comes to lava stone walls! Their vineyards on the island, almost 2 hectares divided into land facing coastline – more hot and then early ripening – and mountain land – on “Grande Montagna” (Big Mountain) – are completely enclosed and protected by the characteristic stone walls.

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The wall of Pantelleria, a great “work of sculpture”

Moscato di Alessandria (Muscat of Alexandria), produces large berries of intense golden color, it is planted in large basins limited by the walls, so that the mistral wind does not damage the buds and flowers do not disperse. Vines are pruned very low, very low indeed, so low that leaves and bunches touch the soil, like all plants on the island. Agriculture here is defined heroic without exaggeration. Work is all manual but it’s not only that, vines height forces you to bend to the ground for any work to be done in the vineyards.

Vendemmia a Pantelleria

Grape harvest in Pantelleria

It is an ancient fatigue that only a strong motivation can win. Dominica, Swiss psychologist, and Salvatore, a “pantesco” (a variation of the Sicilian language) winemaker of great culture, in the district named Mueggen, have turned an old Spanish “dammuso” (a typical Sicilian architecture) of the ‘600, into a cellar overlooking a great view. They welcomed us at their home, in the streets of Tracino, with exquisite courtesy and generosity of stories and explanations that we were absolutely looking for. We have found, in their words, the same issues of small producers in search of quality and ethics and in constant struggle for survival in the so called “ruthless world of wine”. Conversation could have gone on forever!

Nella foto Alessandra insieme al padrone di casa, Salvatore Ferrandes

In the picture Alessandra with Salvatore Ferrandes

After so many words,here it comes, their “passito”. Already the way it is “dressed” looks very elegant: a tall bottle and an essential classic label, a transparent bottle to emphasize the preciousness. The color is deep golden, same as the peel of Moscato when its maturation is perfect.
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Its aroma is captivating and resembles somehow the wind of the island: it smells of fruit tired from the sun, herbal scrub, sea salt. In the mouth what comes first is the “passula”, the dried grape which is the soul of the wine and then the mineral soil of the volcano, the salty air and a thousand other feelings that, sitting in your favourite armchair, you’ll be happy to decipher in its complexity. This wine, like the island, is calm and restless at the same time. Parings? For me, no food. Better while watching a starry sky, or in front of the fireplace with an intriguing book, but also, why not, a way of celebrating an unexpected visit in the middle of the day!

Il cielo di Pantelleria

A starry sky in Pantelleria

And, even better, with traveling companions to talk about the island and awake, more vivid, with wine, its memory.” (By Alessandra Buffetti)

Cantina Santo Iolo (www.santoiolo.it) strada di Otricoli s.n. 05035 Narni, Terni (google map)

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