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Wine of the Week

Handmade in Menfi

There is more in Sicilia than Etna, much in fashion these days. The southwestern coast faces the ocean, and there are beaches with beautiful sand dunes and a fresh breeze. On these beaches there are flowers, and there are beetles, turtles, and all sorts of birdlife. And close to the ocean there are vineyards that take in the salinity from the ocean breeze and warmth of the Mediterranean sun, and the temperature changes between night and day brings both ripeness and a cool acidity to the grapes.

The small town of Menfi is located on this coast, some 3 kilometres inland, and not far from the Marsala growing area. And here is Cantine Barbera, that makes wine from local and regional white grapes like inzolia, grillo and zibibbo, and reds perricone, nerello mascalese, nero d’avola, and some occational international intruder like merlot (in fact a very interesting wine, and the first one I tasted from this winery around 10 years ago).

Bilderesultat for cantine barbera menfi

Marilena Barbera has a “more than organic” approach to winemaking, these wines are made in an artesan way, handmade. This week’s special wine is just that: handmade and truly special. Ammàno means handmade in local dialect. But it’s more: In Marilena’s own words, “it’s totally hand made, and by totally I mean it”. This statement implies that no electricity operated machines are used, the grapes are hand harvested and hand crushed, and all winemaking is carried out only with manual tools. Bottling and corking is also manual, and even the labels are handwritten by Marilena herself (as you may want to see here).

It’s made from old zibibbo grapes. There are no industrial additives, the wine is not filtered, and bottling and corking is done manually too. No industrial additives are used during winemaking, and sulphur is used only to disinfect the barrels. Free SO2 is a mere 13 mg/L.

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Ammàno #2 2014 (Cant. Barbera)

Light golden with a greenish hue, bordering of being unclear. Extremely aromatic with strong tones of grapefruit, and some rhubarb, gooseberry and a salty touch. Full in the mouth, cidery. Yes, it has grapefruit taste too, but it’s a well-rounded, almost ripe and highly attractive bitterness coming through towards the end. Great personality!

Price: Medium

Food: White fish, cooked and grilled, tuna and sword fish, light meat and, I believe, many of the Arab influenced dishes of western Sicilia

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