Today was our wine day when we visited the two most well known, and famous wineries of the archipelago.
Our first stop was the Salina Island home of Caravaglio, which in my opinion, produces the best wine of our visits.
The owner is Nino Caravaglio, an ‘explosive’ man with a frantic pace that makes it difficult for his
employés. But his wines are exquisite.
Caravaglio is a certified organic winery and as we walked through the vineyards, we smelled herbs everywhere. We also had a better appreciation of the difficulties that grape growers have. It’s not for the faint of heart.
The vines average 40 years of age, grown on volcanic soils. All the Aeolian Islands are volcanic, with only 2 still active. Salina was created by 6 different volcanic eruptions.
It’s an “enchanted island’” as Nino describes it, with an air exchange from the sea and the mountains that prevent mold. They only treat the vines with copper sulfate twice a year. The elevation is 250 meters above sea level and everything is hand harvested.
When phylloxera destroyed the vineyards back in the late 1880s, people abandoned almost all of the vineyards which covered 90% of the island. And that was when there was also a mass migration from the island.
Courageously Nino replanted 15 hectares with Malvasia di Liparo with the harvest in mid August.
To produce his famous Passito, for which he consistently receives Tre Bicchieri awards, he lays the grapes meticulously on straw mats to bake in the sun for 1 month. When they are adequately dehydrated, he presses and ferments them.
Nino also owns a vineyard on Lipari where he grows Corinto Nero. DOC regulations require the addition of 5% Corinto in the production of Malvasia di Lipari.
Nino exports 50% of his production and during a fabulous alfresco lunch of local capers, olives, sun dried tomatoes with a caponata and béchamel lasagna that was fabulous, we tasted 3 of his wines:
Occhio di Terra 2018, a Malvasia from a vineyard his mother called the best of the lot. It had a great golden hue with herbal and citrus aromas, some balsamic, very fragrant, a reflection of the herbs that grow side by side in the vineyard.
Palmento di Salina 2018, a rosato which Nino describes as a ‘rosso non rosso.’ It best represents what the home winemakers used to make in the past with a clear red hue. It’s a red wine that behaves like a white wine. It can be served chilled and it’s a red wine that can be served as an aperitif. It’s a blend of several red grape varieties.
Malvasia di Lipari Passito 2018, a deep yellow gold color, ripe white fruit aromas of apricots, peach, pineapple, passion fruit. It is an unctuous well balanced dessert wine very much worthy of its 3 Glass award. The ship on the label is reminiscent of the shipping industry on the island that brought prosperity centuries ago.
We then went to the Hauner Winery where we met Andrea Hauner, whose grandfather was a pioneer on the island.
His grandfather, Carlo, was a painter from Brescia in Northern Italy who came to Salina originally to find inspiration for his painting. He fell in love with the island and decided to stay.
When he found out about the long history of winemaking, he took the plunge and by himself brought back the winemaking tradition.
In the 1970s the Italian wine critic Veronello wrote about his wines and instantaneously he became famous. Others have followed but he was the first.
They produce 120K bottles annually, mostly Malvasia. Andrea acknowledges his grandfather’s legacy by using his paintings on the labels.
We tasted 7 Hauner wines:
Iancura 2018, a blend of 90% Malvasia and 10% Insolia.It had a deep yellow color and aromas of ripe apricots and honey as well as a long aftertaste with ample acidity.
Salina Rosso 201 Terre Siciliane,with a medium ruby color. From a blend of Nero d’Avola and Nerello Mascalese, in the nose I detected a slight barnyard aroma, and leather.
Hierà 2017,from the Greek word island of the gods. Made from grapes grown on Vulcano and harvested at night. Medium dark ruby red, very fruit forward, has similarities with wines from the North slopes of Mt Etna, would pair well with fish.
Rosso Antonello 2016, a blend of 3 grapes, inky red, dark red fruit aromas, rich flavor of dark cherries, a wine made for Winter and braised beef, a truly fine wine, only 3K bottles produced.
Malvasia di Lipari passito 2017, deep yellow gold color, not as aromatic as the Caravaglio
Malvasia di Lipari Riserva 2016 Passito, actually this wine was a combination of passito and late harvest grapes.brown gold in color, aroma of ripe apricots, caramel and honey, great acidity, great balance
Grappa di Malvasia, fruit in the nose, powerful in the taste.