I Vigneri di Salvo Foti

Country: Etna - Sicily

Region: Etna

A native of the city of Catania, Salvo studied enology and began his career in 1981 as a technical and agrarian advisor to some noted estates in eastern Sicily. He continues that work today for estates such as Gulfi and Vini Biondi, all of whose wines are universally recognized as among the best in Sicily. But it is still working with and for someone else. Salvo wanted his own project to really make a wine that sings. Salvo is the leader of the natural wine movement in this volcanic corner of Sicily. While extreme in some respects (racking and bottling under a lunar cycle), he is a pure spirit of natural viniculture and if you want to understand Sicilian winemaking in the Etna DOC, start with Salvo Foti.

Foti is the organizer and leader of the I Vigneri project, named after a Vintner’s Guild founded in 1435 to align the small vineyards in Sicily around the cultivation of the alberello bush vine. Five hundred plus years later, the intent of the project is the same. The vines are concentrated at 700 metres altitude on the north side of the volcano near the town of Calderara. Here, the climate is more like the north of Italy than Sicily, winters are harsh and cold, the summers are hot and dry and there can be extreme fluctuations between night and day temperatures. The soils are broken or decomposed lava stone of varying depth mixed with sand. Many of the vines are rehabilitated old vines, some over 100 years-old, planted at 10,000 plants per hectare in albarello, the only system Salvo considers for producing great fruit under the climatic conditions of Etna. All of these factors allow for work only by hand or mule in the vineyards. Because these vines are so old, there is great diversity within the vineyard and different strains of each of the varieties appear. The grapes are the autochthonous Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio with Alicante (Grenache) and a smattering of vines referred to as Francisi, because their variety and provenance are unknown. There is a system of replanting using only massale selection with cuttings from the older vines while maintaining the diversity of plants. Replanting is done in the older vineyards because some of the old vines die, but there are also new, adjacent parcels being planted. No fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are used. The grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September until mid-October. Fermentations are done in open vats, without the use of yeast inoculation, enzymes or thermal control (the nights by this time of year are quite cold). Racking and bottling are done under lunar cycle. The wines are bottled with little or no filtration. The wine is fermented in open topped stone containers cut into the volcanic rock. The wines are like a rustic cheese or dinner at a local inn in some corner of Italy. Like strong country fare, just pulled from the ground, spiced to bring out natural strengths in taste and strong by nature.

I Vigneri di Salvo Foti Collection

Aurora Etna Bianco Superiore Price € 28.20

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Aurora Etna Superiore Bianco is stunning with delicate details that remind of top Premier Cru white Burgundy and still shows the pure terroir of Etna with exotic spice, flinty mineral and a lovely pale yellow/gold colour, with sexy white peach, tropical notes and kumquat as well as soft butterscotch, salty chalk and lemon marmalade. The main force is a refreshing citrus core, but the acidity is smooth and this refined white, only 11.5% alcohol, feels seductive on the palate with almost satiny texture. This is a light and lifting wine, but with vigor and complexity, the finish is lengthy and leaves lingering dried roses, mixed herb and a trace of honeycomb. This wine comes from steep slopes on lava/iron rich soils, it is surprisingly cool and the grapes develop plenty of character and acidity.

Sensory features: Very fine, subtle and closed. Minerally and almost a little flinty. Citric and slightly mouth-watering, a little chalky and waxy. Tight, green peach and lemon flavours. Fantastic ageworthy stuff that will take on more weight and depth with a couple of years in bottle. 

Aurora is a white wine product in Milo, in the area of Caselle (Etna east), at 800 m above sea level. The native and special vines are 90% Carricante and 10% Minnella. The vineyard is extended about 1.5 Ha. Plant density and spacing is 1.1m x 1.1 m, traditional alberello goblet training [single vines supported by chestnut posts for each plant], meaning 8,000 vines per hectare.Harvesting and cultivation are carried out by hand. 

From the Contrada of Caselle, 1 ha. Pressed and settled for 36 hrs. Fermented in stainless steel and aged on the fine lees for a year. MLF: ‘It happens or not, because the pH is so low often it just only happens partially. Leaving it on the fine lees helps to get MLF started.’ 100% Carricante. 

Aurora, means sunrise, is also called a native, small and pretty butterfly found on the Etna (pictured on the label).

Alcohol content: 12.5%

Bottle size: 750ml



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Vigna di Milo Etna Bianco Superiore Price € 39.20

vigna di Milo

Vigna di Milo is a Etna Superiore wine producted from the Carricante grape in cru vineyard at 950m above sea level. Having a pale yellow colour, this wine developes aromas reminiscent of ripe apricot and orange blossom, sweet almonds and delicate incense. Fresh yet complex with a wild mixture of sea, volcano, altitude, citrus and flowers

Vigna di Milo is an Etna Superiore white wine producted from the eastern slopes of the Etna, in the town of Milo at 950m above sea level, overlooking the sea. The native and special vine is Carricante. The vineyard, a special Cru, extended 0.15Ha. Plant density and spacing is 1m x 1m, traditional alberello goblet training [single vines supported by chestnut posts for each plant], meaning 10,000 vines per hectare. Harvesting and cultivation are carried out by hand and the vineyard is tilled with our mule. Vinification takes place without the use of temperature control vats, culticated yeasts and sulphites. The wine is bottles unfiltered. Racking and bottling are carried out following moon phases.

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I Vigneri Etna Rosso Price € 28.20

i vigneri etna rosso

I Vigneri Etna Rosso is a pure delight, tonic, juicy and driven, floral and cherry with some fruit sweetness on the nose, coupled with Etna’s distinctive spice and some gentle tobacco notes. This a great expression of Etna Rosso that delivers the character of the mountain in a beautiful wine that has real depth and flavour balanced by freshness and vibrancy. A wine with a sense of place…as unencumbered and as representative and as local as it gets!

The I Vigneri Etna Rosso is made from the grapes that vineyard owners traditionally pass on to the workers – I Vigneri – to make wine for daily consumption. The native varieties are Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. This is a frank, genuine wine, fermented in an Etnean Palmento [traditional winery of Etna, dating back to the 17th and 18th Century]. Fermentation takes place in concrete vat. Vinification and the winemaking process do not include the use of fridges, yeasts, wood ageing or filtering. Racking and bottling are carried out following moon phases.

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Vinupetra Etna Rosso Price € 42.90

vinupetra etna rosso doc 2006 i vigneri 2

A very well-resolved and composed wine that shows deep, dark, ripe plum and cherry fruit aromas, some terrific dark, stony, minerally accents. It has a sanguine edge, really lovely depth and focus, and a bright fragrance. The palate's built on ripe and rich tannins, with really convincing depth and dark fruits, sweet, ripe and long. A terrific wine.

Vinupetra is an Etna Rosso produced in the Vigna Calderara in Contrada Porcheria along the northern slopes of Mt. Etna at an elevation of 700 meters. The native vines are Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, along with Alicante and what locals call“Francisi”. The vineyard covers 0.85 hectares with an average vine age of 100 years, with only Etnean alberello (bush-trained) and 1m x 1m vine spacing.The vineyard is cultivated and harvested by hand using only natural products. During fermentation and winemaking, there has been no use of fridges and biotechnology. Racking and bottling are carried out following moon phases.

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