I’ve known about the Stemmari brand, which is owned by northern Italy-based Gruppo Mezzacorona, for many years but had never really focused on it until I was sent samples thanks to Li Valentine of #Thewininghourchat. I’ve been near where the winery is located as well but have never visited them. I was supposed to participate in the chat on February 20 but was very ill and couldn’t be a part of it. I opened both bottles that I was sent as samples this weekend.
Stemmari vineyards are located in Sambuca di Sicilia (AG) and Acate (RG). They have 700 hectares of vines. I also had no idea that they were so attentive to sustainability. According to the website, they “were the first wine cellar in 2002 in Italy to be awarded the EMAS 2 – Eco-Management and Audit Scheme – a certification created by the European Community for environmental sustainability and management.”
Rather than use chemicals, they treat the vineyards with copper and sulphur and use insects in an integrated pest management system using pheromones to confuse the insects. They also add grasses to prevent erosion and plants loaded with nitrogen as natural fertilizers.
Moreover they are attentive to local flora and have many protected species, particularly of orchids, on their land. They even use solar panels for their hot water supply and photovoltaic panels for their electrical supply. Currently they “two-thirds self sufficient.” Part of the cellar is underground which eliminates the need for air-conditioning.
Since water is such a scarce commodity in island living, they have creating innovative ways to collect and store water. They have “seven artificial lakes on the estate (from which winter rainfalls are kept for use in summer).”
The Chardonnay was a nice easy to drink wine that I paired with salmon sashimi.
I liked the apple and pear notes. It came from their property in Acate in the province of Ragusa. Fermentation in steel tanks for 85% of the must while 15% matures in wooden French barriques. The two are then blended and put back into steel tanks before being bottled.
The Nero d’Avola which I also tried this weekend, I paired with baby lamb chops. I can’t remember the last time I had lamb chops or Nero d’Avola and I was excited. It was lovely with floral – violet and rose notes, red and black fruit, and silky tannins. It had a hint of spice, a touch of balsamic notes and a long finish. It spends six months in French oak barrels but I didn’t find it too oaky. It comes from their Sambuca di Sicilia vineyard, in the province of Agrigento. I was pretty surprised both by the wines and by what the winery does in the cellar and in the vineyard, pleasantly so. So reasonably priced as well, between $10-$15. Thanks Li!