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Perricone native Sicilian grapes ready for harvest
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Microcosmo, the perfect marriage between Perricone and Nerello Mascalese, two beautiful wine grapes of Sicily

It’s early morning, the sun randomly sneaks out of a thick blanket of clouds that threatens rain and makes our harvest programs more difficult than usual. We are not used to frequent thunderstorms here in Menfi, as the end of August is normally a dry hot season. 

This year, these anomalous weather conditions are slowing down the ripening process of the grapes and it’s almost impossible to assign a date to the picking. I pray for sunny days, which would help us in our efforts to achieve the highest possible quality. We hurry up among the rows of vines in the Microcosmo vineyard, before the rain comes: six of us to pick half a hectare, it will probably take about four hours.

90% of the vines is Perricone, a gorgeous Sicilian grape variety that is unfortunately on its way to extinction. In the ‘60s it was the only red grape planted in western Sicily; then the Nero d’Avola came, with big money and high scores, and the Perricone was progressively abandoned. Today, only 0.3% of Sicilian grapes are Perricone, and most of them are used to make bulk wine. A real pity.

The rest of the vines in the Microcosmo vineyard are Catanese, which is the name that is given in Menfi to Nerello Mascalese: a variety that is mainly grown on Mount Etna and has perfectly adapted to our terroir, being able to mitigate, with its delicate aromas, the vaguely crusty personality of the Perricone.

Microcosmo is a mixed vineyard, aka a field blend: though genetically very different, the two varieties develop a strong interdependence, and at the end they reach their full ripening stage almost at the same moment. 

I am in love with this small vineyard, which I consider a single entity, a community of organisms who live in harmony. This is also the reason for the wine’s name: Microcosmo, a complex ecosystem where plants, animals, insects, soil, sun, water, grass and a great variety of micro-organisms live together in competition, but also in an overall balance where every individual is essential to other’s life and well being.

A few drops of rain start to fall a few minutes before we are finished with picking, we have been lucky. Immediately brought to the winery, the grapes smell of red apple and raspberry. All things considered, I believe this will be a good vintage.

Tags: Tenuta Belicello, vendemmia, vitigni siciliani, perricone, Microcosmo, nerello mascalese

THE SHORT STORY

THE SHORT STORY

Grape variety: Inzolia grown in Dietro le Case vineyard
Soil: clay soil with calcareous components, very rich in limestones and sea minerals
Vineyard: planted in 1960s, head-trained bush vines
Winemaking: skin contact for 48 hours in steel tanks
Alcoholic fermentation: spontaneous, with wild yeast
Malolactic fermentation: spontaneous
Refining: 4 months on fine lees, in steel tanks
Aging: one oak barrel, where it ages in perpetuum with its sediment
Average production: a few dozen bottles every some years

Download wine sheet

WINEMAKING

The grapes are handpicked the first half of September, when they are fully ripe. The traditional pruning system - called "a pezzo e spalla" - and the age of the vines, allow slow constant ripening cycles and a great aromatic concentration.

The fermentation is spontaneous, with 2 days skin contact. After soft pressing, the fermentation continues for 8 days in steel tanks. After malolactic is completed, the wine refines on fine lees for about 4 months and is then racked into one single oak barrel, where it ages in perpetuum with its sediment.

The wine is bottled directly from the barrel no more than 2-3 times every decade.

TASTING NOTES

Altrimenti has a bright amber color, enlivened by golden hues. Its nose is predominantly tertiary, where fruity notes of apricot and ripe figs blend onto an intense and aromatic herbal background, enriched by roasted and dried nuts.

It is dry and full bodied to the palate, with a distinct savory personality that harmoniously meets a tannic finish.

SERVING TEMPERATURE: 54 - 58 °F
Pour Altrimenti in wide glasses, at a fresh but not chilled temperature.
Please avoid freezers and blast chillers, as well as a prolonged time in your home refrigerator: this wine is not filtered nor fined, and any temperature below 40 °F will mortify its complex aromas.

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