Region: Marsala > Sicily > Italy
Grapes: Nero d'Avola
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: organic farming with some biodynamic practices; clay loam soils; 8 days of skin contact, pressing and 11 months of aging in inox vats; bottled unfined/unfiltered with zero added So2; zero-zero; 13% ABV; 265 cases
Winemaker: Fabio Ferracane
Fabio grew up in a family that had a few hectare of vines, and made wine for home consumption. He started helping out when he was 15, and went on to study viticulture and oenology at school. Like with many natural growers, there was a disconnect between the conventional teachings and wine as viewed it, as a natural product. He says, "At university I’ve been taught that wine is a biochemical process, but soon I realized that I saw wine in a different manner. The winemaker staying in his cellar – adjusting the wine, modifying it, assembling it, often tasting it and deciding whether or not to improve it – that’s just not me!" So he dedicated himself to authenticity in his process, which he says, "means to be able to fully express the Marsala territory in my wines." He now has five hectare of vineyards, with two more on the way, located in front of the Nature Reserve of the Stagnone Islands of Marsala, where they get the gentle sea breeze to balance the warm Sicilian sun.
Fabio is young, and talented. He's managed to take Nero d'Avola, a grape that can be flabby and devoid of acid in the heat, and make it fresh, bright and feminine. Fabio is also poetic. This is how he describes his Guancia Nera (black cheek in Italian): "This wine tells the story of two Sicilian “acidduzzi” (birds) in love, a tale that lies somewhere between reality and fantasy. Guancianera was a white “acidduzzo” (bird) with a small black patch on his cheek. He spent his days together with Guanciabianca, a black “acidduzza” with a white cheek. Theirs being a love of long-forgotten times, we do not know how their story really ended, but we can safely say that behind every great love there is an excellent glass of wine, to tell the story and to keep company."
And Guancia Nera is indeed an excellent glass of wine, with candied red fruit, sweet black cherries, forest floor, soft tannins, and a refreshingly light body. We love it with a slight chill.