press recognition: http://valdibella.com/news.php
Valdibella was started in 1998 with the setting up a Salesian community by Dom Fabio to support the local youth of Camporeale in Sicily, and eventually it grew into a farming cooperative in 2000; indeed the founders of the Valdibella coop had started farming organically back in 1994.
Today, the cooperative offers a new way for local landowners: a real alternative to that of selling fruit (but also almonds and olives) to huge cooperatives, whose activities are closely tied to those of the big brands. In a spirit of solidarity, the Valdibella cooperative refuses to pay the mafia protection money (as per the logo ‘AddioPizzo’), while sharing its values with the local community.
They farm their 220ha (of which 50 are vineyards), supplied mainly by 5 estates, organically (certified), vinified in a new cantina, & now under the direction of Massimiliano Solana, one of the founders. The enologist is Sicilian Antonino Pirrone, who graduated from Alba’s prestigious Umberto 1 School in 2005 & joined Valdibella for the 2014 vintage – both are pictured.
The 50ha are located around the town of Camporeale, with the vineyards at between 300 – 500 msl, on leached red ‘regosuolo’, a lime and clay mix, over sedimentary soils & sandstone. The vineyards are well ventilated, facilitating organic agriculture, and extending the date of harvest until late in the season. They are working on a system of reducing the amount of copper and sulphur used in the vineyard. No chemicals are used.
The first bottled and labelled vintage was in 2009. Viticulturally the focus of Valdibella is on autochthonous (grape) varieties, notably Catarratto (Lucido, Extra-Lucido and Comune), Grillo, red Nero d’Avola, Perricone, Nerello Mascalese (since 2015). But they also grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Muller-Thurgau. They also make two low sulphur wines, a white and a red.
A recent exciting development is ‘Memorii’, a ‘Vino Perpetuo’; historically a family’s wine that was sold in botti as part of the dowry…a practice that combines vintages of Grillo in a solera system, without topping up; system perpetuated also by the British back in the 18th century who selected botti of ‘Vino Perpetuo’ for their Marsala wines, fortifying them before shipping them home.
> Certified organic.
‘Isolano’ Catarratto Extra Lucido
‘Respiro’ Nero d’Avola
2016 Vino Bianco Catarratto – tasted Feb’18 from tank; sometimes blended with Grillo but not in this year. Candied lemon, orchard fruit, savoury, very fresh, citrus zip, textured, waxy. Very good. Clean. Hint of tropical. 12.5abv. Skin contact during fermentation approx.15 days
2017 Zibibbo secco – bottled, tasted Feb’18, a single vineyard proudly by co-founder Gioachino Accardo, at 250m asl in the contrada di Termine on clay; exuberance of gioventu (youth)! Bellissima luce, meringue-lime flavours, yet delicate, secco secco! Only 5k bts produced!
2016 Zibibbo secco – Lovely, bright nose with elderflower and lemon meringue notes. Very fresh and fruity on the palate, with white peach, zippy acidity, a flick of salt, and a mineral backbone. Sunny and vibrant.
2017 ‘Munir’ Catarratto – tasted in Feb’18 from tank, with bottling due end Feb; character opposite to 2016, as ’16 was very classic and slow ripening. ’17 was warmer, faster ripening. Riper phenolics. Deeper lemon colour. Lemon sherbet, preserved lemon, thicker skins as adapted to combat against heat. 10% less juice due to draught. Hint of herbal, bay, richer and longer vs 16 bag in box. Some texture from skins. Blend of vineyards all with different ages.
2016 ‘Munir’ Catarratto – Exotic sicilian fruit on the nose – sicilian lemons, candied lime, small white fruit. Dry with mouth watering acidity and a saline edge. Sunny and delicious.
2017 ‘Ninfa’ Catarratto – tasted Feb’18 from tank, to be bottled end Feb. No added sulphur at all. Slightly reductive versus fruit expressive Munir, also slightly more mineral, savoury, more saline, less fruit, a bit austere at this point. Complex. Fresh.
Vinification is same. De- stemmed (during de-stemming there is some contact with oxygen). Single vineyard called Montalbano. Oldest vines are 28 yo. 400m high. Sandstone/clay. Poorer soil at bottom of slope. 2mg natural sulphur only. No malolactic (same goes for all Valdibella whites).
2016 ‘Ninfa’ Catarratto – Peaches, apricots and lime on the nose, concentrated stone fruit on the palate, good acidity and energy.
2017 ‘Isolano’ Catarratto Extra Lucido – tasted from tank Feb ’18; Cataratto extra lucido. First vintage 2013. Thinner skinned, smaller berries versus Cataratto Bianco. More aromatic. Less vigorous. More concentrated. On the nose not completely clean. 500-550m high. 13 yo vines. Sloped vineyard with chalk, clay and sandstone – higher up there is more sandstone, lower down there is more clay. Lots of extract. Yeasty. Very salty, concentrated fruit, complex, texture. More body, tannin.
2016 ‘Isolano’ Catarratto Extra Lucido – Pure lemon sherbet, citrus, lovely. Perfect ripeness. Lively. Bay, herbal, perfumed, texture and salinity a bit like Arneis…? Very citrussy core. Exciting and vibrant. Riesling-esque piercing acidity. Vintage was balanced, fresh. 2000bts made.
2016 Vino Rosso – tasted Feb’18 from tank, 100% Nero d’Avola, Dark purple. Ripe plum and dark cherry on nose. Juicy blackberries and cream on palate. Good freshness. Tannins ripe. Rustic edge. 13.5% (Nino said having a calm environment reflects in the wine) 500hl approx. made. High natural acid from grape, cherry focused.
2017 ‘Respiro’ Nero d’Avola – tasted from tank Feb ’18; Senza sulfiti. To be Bottled mid Feb. Aubergine coloured- violet (when you add sulphur it becomes redder because the polyphenols cling to sulphites) Soft dark cherry perfume, creamy, lovely freshness, gorgeous fruit, tannins ripe, blackberry leaf…warm. Generous. 15 abv
2015 ‘Respiro’ Nero d’Avola – Dark purple fruit, damson and black cherry, concentrated and juicy on the palate, with a herbal and earthy note and smooth tannins.
2017 ‘Agamante’ Perricone – tasted from tank Feb’18; Was nearly extinct 20 y ago. Very productive grape. When vine managed badly can be unbalanced, with low sugar, low alcohol, high acidity. Very crunchy dark cool fruit, perfumed, purple berry, liquorice, peppery, high tannin, smoky, mulberry. V prominent tannins, needs time in wood. To spend at least 1 yr in barriques but might use botti grandi.
‘Memorii’ Catarratto Extra Lucido e Grillo – tasted in Feb’18 from botte grande; Vino perpetuo. Became Marsala. Solera system of grillo ad cataratto. Oldest is grillo ’14. A blend of 2014/15/17. Golden in colour. Nutty and complex, orange skin, candied citrus, almond. Fresh and mineral on palate, salty, long, rich, and textured. Vino perpetuo started centuries ago. The barrel was topped up each year, passed on from father to son when the first son married. Then English came to find it, added alcohol, shipped to UK from Marsala, and thus Marsala was born. 13.5 abv.