Not quite bang in the middle of the island, not close to any major town of import, not quite isolated, but quite out on its own in the uplands of central Sicily, lies the vinous beacon of Feudo Montoni.
The estate of the delightfully, gently eccentric Fabio Sireci is based on the baglio, the typical, traditional farmhouse complex with interior courtyard, and his dates from 1469. It had been bought by his grandfather at the beginning of the 20th century.
The farm lies in the north-south running valle delle Tumarrano, and in traditional farmhouse style, Sireci’s 25 hectares of vineyards, which produce about 80,000 bottles of wine, lie among 50 ha of wheat and 5ha of olives. The vineyards face east at altitudes ranging from 500 to 750m above sea level, where, he said, the day-night temperature differences are greater than on Mount Etna’s vineyards.
Given the isolation of the vineyard, and its remoteness, Sireci claims a unique clone of nero d’avola – the vrucara clone – and one of his vineyards has 85 year old bush vines from pre-phylloxera stock. He said “Giacomo Tachis [who spent time working with Sicily’s Istituto Regionale della Vite e del Vino] likes the vrucara clone. Tachis was looking for true nero d’avola, and he thought mine could be one of the oldest and purest, for its age and isolation.”
Sireci added that documents from the 16th century record winegrowing at Feudo Montoni. He said “in the ‘De Vinorum’, Andrea Bacci [the papal agronomist] wrote about Etna, Palermo and he wrote about Feudo di Montoni as a ‘powerful red wine for long conservation.” More recently “Tachis said our nero d’avola has more acid, it’s more like a pinot noir” added Sireci. These were the vines his grandfather propagated.
Sireci makes four wines, and is experimenting with one or two new wines. Some 90% of his production is exported, though inexplicably not to the UK.
Wine tasting and notes, in situ, June 2011
Feudo Montoni, Grillo 2010 IGT ~€9
13%. Aromatic, intense, lemon grass, white peachy, green hints. Rich, succulent, layered fruits, citrus, melon, peach; round and textured. Good.
Feudo Montoni, Catarratto 2010, IGT ~€10
13%. Fairly unaromatic nose, this has delicate citrus and white pepper notes, lifted, light and fresh. Smoothly textured. Very nicely made wine, though I struggle with the point of catarratto as a light wine. Of these two, I’d have the grillo every single time.
Feudo Montoni, Nero d’Avola 2009 ~€12
13%. 40% in second passage oak.
Medium deep colour. Fragrant, tarry, elegant, with light redcurrants in mouth, a medium body, and lovely balance. Fresh, crunchy berry frits, just enough grip (without heat). Very nice. Long finish.
Feudo Montoni, Nero d’Avola Vrucara 2008 ~€20
13.5%. This has 8 months in new and second passage oak. Unfiltered. Wild ferment.
Deep colour, with hints of dark purple/blue. Aromatic charcoal smoke, with very smooth texture and sweet, brooding fruit. A real intensity of substance, with a fresh core. This is long, complex, layered, fresh and meditative; balanced, harmonious, and so, so, drinkable. And extremely good value at that price.
My research visit to Sicily in June 2011 was sponsored by the Sicilian Regional Institute for Viticulture and Wine.