Sicily on My Mind: Suber from Daino

Today is world water day and I am thinking of all the places I have been that have had or will have problems with water, among them Sicily. I found this very interesting article about the rise of organized crime and drought. I have no idea about the veracity of the the theories put forth in this article but it does give one pause for thought as so many places on Earth face unrest today and in the future with the growing water crisis. Wine regions in general have to deal with their use of water and techniques to combat it.

One of the answers for the water problem surely is to use less water but is also to grow healthier plants which need less water and look for sources underground through their roots. Organic and biodyamic viticulture will surely help in this quest. Today’s winery, Daino, is a proponent of all these techniques.

The winery is located in the heart of Sicily between Gela and Catania in the city of Caltagirone. I first tried this wine at Vivit which is the organic wine area at Vinitaly. I tried it again on March 1 this year at the Slow Wine event in New York. It was just as complex and delicious as I had remembered from this summer when I tasted it at Vinitaly.

The Daino vineyard is located in a wood called the Bosco di Santo Pietro wood in South Eastern Sicily. This nature preserve is one of the amazing factors behind these wonderful wines. The vineyard is located at 325 meters above sea level. The grapes for this wine are Nero d’Avola (50%), (20%) Nero Capitano (Frappato) and (30%) Alicante . The name of the wine is Suber which comes from the name for cork trees, known as Quercus Suber. There are many cork trees in the woods where the winery is located. The woods are also a haven for animals and birds. The soils in the vineyard are sandy red soils with rock underneath. The area has hot, dry, windy summers and good thermal excursion.

The vines are bush trained according to the ancient traditions in this area. According to their website, “the vines are supported by chestnut wood stakes while the shoots are tied with biodegradable, environmentally friendly twine made from pampas grass (Cortaderia Jubata), which grows spontaneously at the margins of the vineyard.”

Caltagirone is a city I have never visited but have always been interested in. It’s very famous for its ceramics, apparently master potters learned many of their techniques during the Arab domination.

Suber is a beautiful wine with aromas and flavors of red and black fruits as well as dried fruit, spice and leather and oak. The tannins are silky and the wine has a long finish.

The hand picked grapes spend 14 days in stainless steel fermentation tanks and then 12 months in oak of vary sizes and don’t go through either clarification or filtration. They also age 6 months in the bottle before release.

I really liked this wine and the man who makes it Gianfranco Daino. I also happen to be friends with their importer, Tradizione Imports, but it’s the wine that really speaks to me.

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