The Wines of Feudo Maccari - Helping Boost Sicily to the Top of the Italian Wine List

 

The Feudo Maccari Winery:

Antonio Moretti Cuseri, the successful textile entrepreneur and veteran wine producer owns some highly-regarded Tuscan wine estates that include Tenuta Sette Ponti near Arezzo, Poggio al Lupo in the Maremma area and Orma in Bolgheri, Tuscany’s premier coastal wine region. His Tuscan estates have produced some award-winning Super-Tuscan wines but in the late 1990’s he took things to a new level when he assembled various parcels to create the Feudo Maccari winery south of  the town of Noto in southeastern Sicily not far from the Ionian Sea.

Moretti Cuseri’s goal in establishing Feudo Maccari is to produce not only good but great wines from primarily native Sicilian varieties such as Neo d’Avola and Grillo. His Sicilian estate is sensitive to traditional varieties and terroir and strives for well-balanced, quality wines that exhibit a sense of place not unlike Moretti Cuseri's portfolio of Super-Tuscan wines.

View of Maccari wineryThe Maccari winery operates at the intersection of tradition and innovation. While the primary focus in the vineyards is on native varieties, some “international” varieties like Syrah are also planted. The Syrah variety has adapted well to southern Sicily’s hot microclimate and produces different types of wine than those from the U.S. or elsewhere. Maharis, one of Maccari’s most highly-regarded red wines, for example, is made entirely of estate-grown Syrah.

Modern techniques and innovations are on full display in Maccari’s winemaking and cellaring operations. This starts with the estate’s multi-level vinifMaccari winery ageing roomication and cellaring facility that provides a smooth flow of grapes from receiving and crushing through fermentation, ageing and bottling. In the spotlessly-clean vinification and ageing rooms you can view row-after-row of stainless steel tanks as well as eggshell-shaped concrete tanks, French oak barriques and large wooden casks.

Although a young winery by Sicilian standards, Feudo Maccari has already developed a well-earned reputation for producing structured, balanced and elegant food-friendly wines. The emphasis is always on quality and in pursuit of this there have been some evolutionary changes in their approach to viticulture and winemaking over time as they gain experience with their vineyard microclimate and characteristics of the native grape varieties.

After a recent tour of the winery, I had the opportunity to taste their full lineup of wines. Presented below are my notes and comments on each wine in the order in which they were tasted.

The Wines:

 

The wines of Feudo Maccari

 

Grillo IGP 2016
Up until recently, Grillo was used almost exclusively for producing Marsala wines. However, over the past several decades Grillo has been successfully vinified on its own with some commercial success as a dry but flavorful white wine with a distinct Sicilian personality.

Maccari’s 2016 Grillo is straw-yellow in color with a light green hue. A gentle swishing of the glass releases subtle citrus, peach and tropical fruit aromas. It has a vibrant palette of lemon zest, pear and dried herb flavors accompanied by a saline note. Crisp with good acidity and a piquant finish, it is the perfect companion for simple fish and spinach dishes, sushi and sashimi, tandoori chicken and soft cheeses.

Rosé IGP 2015
This rosé is made entirely of Nero d’Avola grapes that are softly pressed and macerated without skins. In order to retain the variety’s fresh and fruity character the wine is aged in steel tanks instead of oak vats. It is a deep shade of pink bordering on orange and has good texture, subtle flavors of red plums, wild cherries and some spice notes with a touch of pepper on the finish. Maccari’s 2015 Rosé is the perfect summer aperitivo or companion for dinner parties where carpaccio, beef tartare, grilled fish or the classic Italian summer dish, vitello tonnato, is on the menu.

Nero d’Avola IGP 2015
The origins of Nero d’Avola go back millennia to the first Greek settlements. It today is Sicily’s most important and widely planted red wine grape variety.

This wine is made entirely of carefully-selected Nero d’Avola grapes that are macerated on the skins for 10 days and then fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks for 8 months. It is medium-bodied, bright and vibrant with lingering black cherry aromas and flavors with some wild herb and peppery notes. Nothing is overdone here - it is a smooth, lightly tannic, 13.5 percent abv wine that strives for elegance and finesse over power.

Saia DOC 2014
The 2014 Saia is made entirely of Nero d’Avola from alberello-trained (bush-trained) vines that have been intensively pruned to enhance the wine’s body and concentration. The grapes are selected from the estate’s best vineyards, fermented separately then combined and aged in barriques for 12 months. The wine is subsequently aged in bottles for an additional 6 months prior to release.

This Nero d’Avola is made in a big, rich style that exemplifies the soft, opulent side of the variety. In the glass it has a dark ruby red color with a magenta edge. It has great depth of flavor with compelling plum, ripe blackberry and blueberry flavors and an edge of acidity that keeps it lively. The 2014 Saia is built for the long-run and although delicious and ready to drink now it can handle another 8 to 10 years with aplomb.

Maharis DOC 2014
The name “Maharis” is derived from the Arab term for the ancient stone watch-towers that once dotted the Italian seacoast purposed to scan the horizon for invaders.

The 2014 Maharis is made entirely of estate-grown Syrah, a non-native variety that has adapted well to Sicily’s hot, dry Mediterranean microclimate and in the process developed its own personality. Maharis spends 16 months ageing in French oak barriques and has 14.5 percent abv.

Exuberant aromas of dark cherry, cassis and hints of potpourri segue into a core of rich, dark fruit flavors edged with some peppery spiciness. Evolved tannins impart complexity and finesse while a vein of juicy acidity provides fillip to the persistent finish. This full-bodied, rich and sturdy wine is made to accompany lamb, strong beef dishes and venison or, alternatively, is excellent served by itself as a vino da meditazione with perhaps a bowl of pistachios within arm’s reach.

Moscato di Noto, “Sultana” Passito 2013
The Sultana is a sweet, dessert-style wine made entirely of Moscato grapes that are naturally dried for 3 months in the traditional passito process. The dried grapes are hand selected, softly pressed and macerated without skins. It has 16.5 percent abv and is honey colored with amber high-lights. Enticing white fruit and candied citrus fruit aromas are succeeded by intense apricot, peach, sweet fig and acacia honey flavors. It is pleasingly rich, refined and complex - sweet without being too sweet with good acidity to balance the sweetness and a pleasantly sweet, generous finish. It is a sublime and sensuous drinking experience and an ideal companion for not-too-sweet desserts such as almond cookies or cakes, dried fruits and any pastry made with ricotta cheese.

Unfortunately, this intriguingly sweet and balanced wine is only made in small quantities and very little finds its way to the U.S.

©Richard Marcis
August 13, 2017

For other reviews of award-winning Italian wines and producers see Italian Wine Reviews.

 

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