D. Vivand Denon (Voyage en Sicile)


Silvia Maestrelli, wine producer in her Tuscan estate of Villa Petriolo at Cerreto Guidi, her husband Roberto Silva and winemaker Federico Curtaz have decided, with passion and conviction, to stake their bets on Sicily. In 2007, fascinated by this extraordinarly beautiful and rich island, they bought a XVIII century palmento , a large covered fermenting vat made of lava stone, which overlooks a one hundred year old vineyard, some 17 acres of Nerello Mascalese vines. "l'vigne di Fessine", as people here define the vineyards of the estate, are guarded by a magnificent tree, whose roots, like a snake, wrap around the boundary wall of the hamlet of Rovittello and whose branches soar upwards towards the Nebrodi mountains. People call it Millicucco, the fascinating and hieratic guardian of the village.


"The most striking thing you can see when you lift your gaze up is a plume of smoke rising from the crater of the volcano, shaped like a gnome's hat, on top of the mountain. It has puffed for over 500,000, flowing with ash and lava stone which settle and spread over the course of the seasons, sometimes washed away by the rain, sometimes stirred up and covered by newly flowing lava, hidden for hundreds of year until Nature, patiently, once again begins to conquer the rock, creating irregular basins, small hollows which, when farmed properly, give wonderful fruit. "I vigne di Fessina" are one of these natural basins, rich in the poverty of their soil. Between Linguaglossa and Randazzo you can find many of these basins which nourish the vineyards generously and patiently. Vineyards which produce strikingly individual wines, from special soils and micro-environments which make them unique." (Federico Curtaz),



Sicily is an island with well defined coasts. It is a bridge which unites two

continents: Europe in the western Mediterranean, at the Italian end, and

Africa in the eastern Mediterranean, close to Tunisia, which is only 90 miles

away. Physically, Sicily is an isosceles triangle surrounded by the islands of

Pantelleria and Ustica to the southeast, by the archipelago of Egadi to the

southwest, and the Aeolian islands to the north. The northern coasts, washed

by the Tyrrhenian Sea, extend from the Straits of Messina to cape San Vito,

while the eastern coast, on the Ionian sea, extend from the Strait of Messina

to Cape Passero. In the north, where the Peloritani Mountains rise, the coast

is high and steep. Mount Etna rises from the plain of Catania. Towards the

southeastern cape the coastline is jagged, while the southwestern coast is

geologically various. The coast which faces Africa is formed of sands and

dunes, beds of chalk, and geological formations called "Trubi".

CASTIGLIONE DI SICILIA -------------The name of Castiglione derives from Castel Leone, an ancient fort overlooking the Alcantara valley. The Greeks settled in Castiglione from 403 B.C. for its strategic position and built a fortified lookout post to control the only access to the internal part of Sicily. Over the centuries the Romans took control of the town, followed by the Arabs and then the Normans under whom it became a royal town. Modern Castiglione was built during the Middle Ages, as indicated by the irregular plan of the town and various sorts of architectural evidence, among which the Castle, 0 Cannizzu, a lookout tower. The town is situated at some 2000 feet above sea level and overlooks the Alkantara river and valley. It is formed by seven rural districts: Rovittello, Solicchiata, Passopisciaro, Verzella, Grava, Mitogio and Castrorao.


According to Virgil, it was founded by Aeneas, though Thucydides thought it was built by the Elimi. The temple is one of the most beautiful and best conserved examples of Doric architecture on Mount Barbaro, on which an impressive theatre dating back to the third century B.C. rises. The Elimi population was composed of indigenous and non-indigenous

peoples and was Greek in culture.


Equidistant from Siracusa and Pachino, Noto is a most interesting city from

an historical and architectural point of view. It is surrounded by vineyards,

almond and citrus trees.

On January l l th 1693 the old city was destroyed by an earthquake and

its ruins are now overgrown by vegetaion.


"Green mulberry trees, blossoming oleanders, citrus groves ( .. .) the splendour of enormous garde" (Wolfgang von Goethe) Praised in the Classical period by statesmen, poets, playwrights, philosophers, historians and natural scientists, it was considered the fulcrum of political, religious and socio-cultural events during the Arabian rule, the link between the Christian and the Muslim world. Under the Normans, Sicily was open to the influences of Italian and European culture. In the 16th century, with the discovery of America, the political and economic center of gravity shifted from the Mediterranean world to Western Europe and the Atlantic. Over time, Sicily found itself far from the principal

political, economic and financial centres.


The island is located in the same geographical belt as northwest Africa, southern Spain and the Peloponnesian peninsula, accordingly it enjoys mild winters and hot summers; the climate and the flora of the internal parts of the island are typically Mediterranean. The climate is quite arid: on three quarters of the island scarce rainfall and high summer temperatures create a severe water deficit.

Sicily presents the most complex and complete geology one can imagine.


The Peloritani mountains, in the east, are composed of red granite and metamorphic rock. The Etna volcano is another specific geological environment, and in the west the Magrebidi chain, composed of flysch and carbonic rock, include the Nebrodi, the Madonie, the Sicani, and Palermo mountains. Towards Trapani the chain goes under the sea to appear again in Western Africa. Different types of soil drew their prigin from these complex geological formations. This, together with the various meso- and micro-climates, allows the many grape varieties of the island to express themselves in different ways with well defined territorial characteristics.


- 300/400 Falda di Gela _
- 400/500 Calabridi _
- 500/600
- 6001700 5icilidi _
- 800/1000 Flysvh numidico _
- 1000/1000 Unitll interne _
- 100011000
- 1000/1000 (miOCene~~I~rs;~~~~nei -
- 1000/1000 Avanpaese ibleo _ GRAPE GROWING IN SICILY

Grape growing in Sicily has a long history.

The Greeks, the Phoenicians and the Romans testified with their art, literature and handicraft tools their relationship to wine both in everyday life and in liturgical and ceremonial events.

In the Odyssey Ulysses makes the giant Polyphemus, who lived on Mount Etna, drunk and then blinds him and escapes.

Today viticulture in Sicily covers about 120,000 hectares (close to 300,000 acres), of which about 105,000 in the provinces of Trapani, Agrigento and Palermo, the old Val di Mazzara, about 10,000 in the historic Val di Noto in the provinces of Siracusa, Ragusa, Caltanisetta and Enna, and about 5,000 hectares in the old Val Demone between Messina and Catania. Viticulture has spread allover the island, especially on the western side. Nearly 60% of the Sicilian vineyards are in the province of Trapani. The most widely cultivated varieties are Catarratto, used in the past for the production of Marsala, and Nero d'Avola, which has spread over the entire region, moving away from its original area in the southeast of the island. Among international varieties there are Syrah and Chardonnay. Nerel/o Mascalese and Nerel/o Cappuccio, with about 4,800 hectares (12,000 acres), represent 4% of the overall Sicilian production, essentially in the area between Catania and Messina.




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The Etna massif is bounded by the Alcantara valley, the Simeto basin, and the Catania plain on one side and by the sea on the other. It extends for 1,570 square kilometers and has a perimeter of 75 miles; its peak reaches close to 10,500 feet at its highest point; gentle slopes begin at approximately 4,800 feet and are cultivated and inhabited. Up to an altitude of 7,500 feet there are dark lava flows and a vegetation of scrub wood and broom, then only bare stone and ash.

The main cone is still active. Along the slopes there are hundreds of small cones from which at times lava continues to flow, reaching populated areas. In 1669 a flow destroyed Catania, while in 1928 another destroyed Mascali. The volcanic soil consists of lava beds, basalt, tuff, /apilli (smaller lava stone ejected during eruptions), and ash, very permeable to water. In winter it regularly snows on the mountain top, but the area is barren due to a lack of rivers, which instead are numerous on the lower part of the mountain, together with springs and wells.


The Etna vineyards extend for 2,900 hectares (7200 acres) over three quarters of the circumference of the volcanic cone, from the southern side which overlooks the Catania plain to the eastern side towards the sea and to the north towards the Nebrodi mountains.

On the southern side we find the highest vineyards, which reach 3300 feet in altitude. On these slopes viticulture represents only a small part of the extension it had in the past.

The varieties grown here are Nerello Mascalese, Carricante and a small quantity of Grenache. According to both popular opinion and the oral culture which has been handed down from generation to generation, the best Etna red wines are produced on the northern part of the volcano between Piedimonte and Randazzo. Here the grape variety par excellence is Nerello Mascalese and, less frequently, Nerello Cappuccio.

Hazelnut and olive groves grow close to vines. About 45% of the whole Etna vineyard surface is here, in particular in the townships of Castiglione di Sicilia and Randazzo.

Quoting Salvo Foti in 2001 "the best districts for the cultivation of the vine, among which Verzella, Rovittello and Valcerasa are numbered, are in the townships of Piedimonte Etneo, Linguaglossa and Castiglione di Sicilia. In this region there are the finest and oldest vineyards of Nerello Mascalese, which gives very elegant red wines with good alcoholic content and spicy aromas".

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In former times about ten varieties were cultivated in the Etna area, but the situation changed drastically after the phylloxera vine louse and the devastation it caused reached the island. Today there are Nerello Mascalese, Carricante, Grenache and, in smaller percentages, Minnella and Nerello Cappuccio.

NERELLO MASCALESE ----------------Its origins are in the Mascali plain at the foot of the Etna volcano, where it has been grown for four centuries. It has a great vegetative and productive vigour. On Etna it found good growing conditions thanks to the shallowness of the soil, the high vine density, the notable altitude, and to the cultivation techniques which were adopted. The ripening differences among different districts (Hcontrade", as they are called) are notable.

Quoting again Salvo Foti, "experience shows that the best trellising system for Nerel/o Mascalese is the traditional "alberel/o" (head-trained bush vines) with high vine density per hectare (6,000-9,000 vines per hectare or 2,400 - 3,600 vines per acre). "Alberel/o" is still the most widespread trellising system on the Etna, but it is destined to be abandoned by vine growers for its excessive labor costs and the shortage of agricultural labor. The new trellising systems, especial/y espalier systems (upwards-trained vertical trellising), often do not give results of good quality with Nerel/o Mascalese. "

This late-ripening grape variety has a long grape bunch with a sort of wing. The skin is red tending to blue with an abundant presence of bloom. According to recent studies by Rocco Di Stefano the anthocyanine composition of this variety does not include the family of the acilated anthocyanines, as is also the case with Pinot Noir. It seems that Nerello Mascalese and Pinot Noir are the only grape varieties in the world with this characteristic.

Tannins are abundant, rich and soft when the grapes are fully ripe. The varietal aroma is complex, ranging from balsamic notes to tobacco. It produces about seven tons per hectare (2.8 tons per acre). 220 hectares of Nerello Mascalese are registered for the production of Etna appellation red wine, and half of them are over 30 years old.


~ERELLOCAPPUCCIO -----------------------------------------------------We do not know the origin of this variety, which grows only in Sicily and is also known by the name Nerello Mantellato. With Nerello Mascalese it forms the basis of the blend of the Etna Rosso appellation and gives wines suitable for aging. Nerello Cappuccio has a smaller bunch with a blue-violet skin. It is rich in anthocyanines and its aroma is fruity with notes of cherry jam.


Carricante, cultivated only on Mount Etna, traces its origins to Viagrande. It has a large and winged bunch, is very fertile and productive, and initially aromatically neutral. It produces wines with a high fixed acidity, low Ph (2.9/3.0) and a high malic acid content. It gains more complex aromatic nuances with aging. About 80 hectares of Carricante are registered for the production of Etna appellation white wines and half of them are over than 30 years old.


A minor variety with widely spaced berries and a thick skin. It matures late and has always been part of the Etna blend. It is not particularly productive and it is seldom fermented separately.



Originally from the region of Avola, Noto and Pachino, in the southeastern part of the Island, Nero d'Avola is the most well known Sicilian variety.

It gives full-bodied and fine flavored wines, with a high natural acidity which maintains their freshness, even if they appear rough in their natural state.

It has been used as a blending wine and has been often exported. Today it is used in blends with Nerello Mascalese, Frappato di Vittoria, and the recently introduced Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. Nero d'Avola has a large leaf, the bunch is somewhat conical, winged and compact. The skin is of medium thickness, very resistant, and bluish in color.

It prefers training systems such alberelio (head-trained bush vines) or espalier (vertical trellising) and short pruning. The origin of this variety and of its name is something of a mystery. Nero d'Avola is also known as "Calabrese", deriving from the term in dialect "Calaurisi", that means "grapes coming from Avola" ("cala" means grapes while "aulisi" means from Avola, a town in the province of Siracusa). This variety grows only in Sicily, where it is also called "Calabrese d'Avola", "Calabrese Nero", "Calabrese Pizzutello" and "Calabrese Dolce".


In 1874, Mas and Puillat, in their "Hlstoire, culture et description des vignes a raisin de cuve", described Chardonnay as "a variety with a distinguished pedigree which, in suitable latitudes, gives high quality wines. Its cultivation could be extended to southern regions at certain latitudes or on hillsides with a northern exposure, those with similar climatic conditions to those in the center and in the northeast of France.

They concluded with notes on agronomy, adding that well drained calcareous, clayey soils, where the force of the variety represents a precious means for the life of the plant and for

the quality of the wines. Our forebearers already knew everything.

Chardonnay is the most significant white grape for long-lasting and important wines. The variety was recently introduced to Sicily with surprising results. It has an important productivity that must be controlled, as high yields decrease quality.

It has intensity and grace and improves over time.


The vineyards of the Fessina estate are in Rovittello, a small village in the township of Castiglione di Sicilia. The town was created by the Greeks and has an agora and other typically Greek architectural features. Rowitello is a small village of houses and cement fermenting tanks which once belonged to Mr. Musmeci.

It is a quiet place, at 2000 feet above sea level. Winters are severe with frequent snowfalls, springs are rainy, summers hot and dry, and autumn is long and warm with high day to nighttime temperature swings. In the center of the village there are five centuries-old trees called "millicucchi".

The alberel/o-trained vineyards extend over approximately seven hectares (17-5 acres) and were planted, beginning in 1920, during the period after the first World War with vine spacing of 1.15 x 1-15 meters and an overall density of about 8,000 vines per hectare (3,200 per acre). The vines have a central trunk from which three or four short spurs extend. They are supported by a chestnut stake or "tutor", to which the trunk and the annual vegetative growth are tied. Cultivation techniques are rather simply: pruning in the winter and then de-suckering in the spring to leave 6-7 canes, then crop thinning in summer. Treatments against oidium and downy mildew are carried out 4-5 times per year. The alberelli are like sculptures, pruned by generations of people; sometimes they are strong and erect, sometimes gnarled and twisted.




The vineyards are enclosed by two semicircular lava deposits which surround them in a maternal embrace. They are composed of the lava flows of the past. They divide the vineyards like the old walls of the French Clos, or enclosed vineyard, creating a special microenvironment.

The soil on which the vines grow is not deep, black, rich in pumice and fine-grained clay. The vineyard grows on a lava flow between of these two 'wings', both of which are covered by hazelnut and olive groves and such spontaneous vegetation as broom along with an occasional and chestnut trees.

Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio are planted alongside ancient vines and an occasional vine of Carricante and Catarratto.

They grape bunches which they produce are small in size. When ripe they have a potential alcohol of 12.5-13° and a total acidity of seven grams per litre.

They are not rich in anthocyanines but the tannins are dense and ample. At Fessina the harvesting is late.

After the exceptional experience at the Fessina estate, we discovered another part of the marvelous golden garden that is Sicily. We found these small vineyards and began to cultivate them, to produce wines which will leave a mark, searching for something new. A new interpretation of Sicilian wines, but in an old and settled place, one with a variety with a strong personality, able to give long-lasting wines.


After the exceptional experience at the Fessina estate, we discovered another part of the marvelous golden garden that is Sicily. We found these small vineyards and began to cultivate them, to produce wines which will leave a mark, searching for something new. A new interpretation of Sicilian wines, but in an old and settled place, one with a variety with a strong personality, able to give long-lasting wines.

In 2007 we started to produce a Chardonnay from Segesta

in th island's west. A mature vineyard, with a soil composed of limestone and clay with a good northwestern exposure and an altitude close to 2000 feet. These elements have contributed to give a fresh and structured wine, without the use of

wood in its aging, which has the ambition to mature well and,

at the same time, to be enjoyed when still young. The objective, the style of this wine is elegance. We aim at producing wines which are not common by focusing on the vineyards themselves. The fermentation takes place at Tenuta di Fessina, in a modern and equipped cellar. We do not wish to do extraordinary things, but rather to work hard on the quality of the raw material: the grapes. No compromises.


The territory of the Val di Noto consists of a grid of hills and small valleys which slope towards the sea. Behind it, in the distance, the austere spurs of the Iblei mountains, furrowed by the quarries which, like veins, pockmark rocky hillsides eroded over time. Like a ship with a prow facing eastwards, the promontory, covered with vines and olive groves, stretches outwards towards Cape Passero, which tapers into the sea. The vineyards extend over hills dominated by the remains of ancient feudal holdings, witnesses of an epoch which has passed. The bush vines are tangles of canes and leaves which protect the grapes from the strong sunlight and from a wind from faraway places which blows in constantly from the sea. The light is intense. And here it is a decisive factor. The vines, a rich green, are gathered into tiny plots of white, limestone-rich earth dotted here and there with an occasional dark rock of volcanic origin. The soils are poor and dry and give to the vines only the minimum sustenance necessary for survival. The wines of this vineyards are warm and sensual, deeply colored, with the lively acidity which is an innate part of the Nero d'Avola grape. These are fascinating places, with a natural viticulture, simple, embedded in a powerful environment which merely encourages the challenge of cultivating it well.

Nero d'Avola is a variety of uncertain origins and with many styles of interpretation. We are intrigued by the idea of purity. A wine which is direct and harmonious, which does not renounce its fresh natural acidity but also expresses the exotic nature of its fruit, part of its identity, its character, what men succeed in prying from the east wind which blows each and every day and tells lovely tales.





SE (IF) if - "se" in Italian - we had been able to call it Nakone, we would have gladly done so. But someone quicker than us stole the name, registering it for their estate. Therefore, IF we had been quicker and smarter and less in love with SEgesta and

its hills, the magic of Nakone, a mythical city of the Elimi people which has never

been found, could have accompanied our adventure. Welcome then SE ... an hypothesis of reality, an emotion which flows and fills our soul, invites us to abandon ourselves to our passion, our excitement for this new project, this new wine.

Fermentation tanks: temperature-controlled stainless steel.



NERELLO CAPPUCCIO Ero: the name - "I was" in Italian - evokes

the colour black, or "(niero" and the essence Erse, sound of sunrise and of dewdrops at

of a variety which comes from afar: dawn. The light blue of dew drops at dawn,

from what once was. the light blue of Mount Etna's sky.

The root: to be

(in the first person singular form).

The meaning: being there, making that wine.

Obscure. The word (ero)s is concealed in the name. On the label, a feathered snake

to reveal the hidden wine.

The ancient myth of Eros and Psyche favors the search for a wine yet to be discovered.

A wine to be unconditionally loved.

Fermentation tanks: temperature-controlled stainless steel;

Fermentation tanks: stainless steel.




We decided to dedicate the cru wine from our Nerello Mascalese grapes to the "Musmeci" family and particularly to mister Musmeci, who for many years has taken care of the vineyards - "I' Vigne di Fessina" - with so much loving care and attention that we are still able to cultivate eighty years old vines. The history of this extraordinary territory, with its colours, its landscape, its culture, is inextricably linked to the lives of its people.

And to the wine which has now been born. Fermentation tanks: temperature-controlled stainless steel.

Aging: 15 months in oak

(3600 liter oak and 130 gallon tonneaux),



Sicily has always been a place of tales and of challenges. A thousand stories of men and women. A haven for voyagers in a sea of troubles, a land which has been the objective of proud conquerors and a mirage for fearful and troubled refugees searching for a safe place for body and soul, a magic spot which has long been a source of inspiration for poets and wandering philosophers. A land which unites rulers and the ruled on an island bounded by the infinite. A rich land blessed by Nature, where civilizations are layered one atop the other, and one with deep and complex cultures. A place where earth and sky, fire and water meet and mingle. We arrived on Mount Etna, at Rovittelio, on tiptoe, as curious visitors, fascinated by the forms, alive and changeable, of the place. Armed with a passion and love for wine, we discovered a small corner under the severe gaze of the volcano to put us to the test, armed with the firm conviction that we wished to interpret this fateful encounter in our own way.

The Sicilians have welcomed us. We have met cultured persons and simple persons, but all of them have helped us feel at home and for this we shall always be grateful. For all of these persons we feel a profound respect.

Cuntu will be a container of tales, a space where each and everyone of us can make himself comfortable and say whatever he or she likes - we shall be only the masters of ceremonies. It will be an instrument to recount our amazement at waking up at Fessina in the morning and working throughout the day on our wines. It will be the instrument to talk about what we have encountered and discovered and the emotions we feel about the history and culture of this marvellous mountain in the middle of the sea. Sicily has always been a land of paradoxes, a place where the beautiful and the ugly, the basest and most sublime, love and violence, art and indifference, nobility and misery have coexisted and intertwined in the strongest and most powerful way.

From Euripides to the tellers of tales of our day, Sicily is also a place where rituals, and the theatrical gesture, help us, almost unconsciously, to get in touch with our restlessness and unease and to look to the future with a strengthened faith and hope.

Cuntu will be a diary which will recount the events and the dramatis personae of Fessina, a place where each character will play his own daily role in the common task and objective of creating wines which provoke strong sensations and emotions. Ideas, encounters, and projects will find a welcoming space where they can grow and develop in the shadow of the mountain where, infinitely larger and stronger than us, it will give us a sense of our own very relative importance and significance.

Tenuta di Fessina videos http://it.youtu be. com/watch?v = YiY rcnO H 08g http://it.youtu be.com/watch?v = hQGVZcu3 5co http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a qC7bmS k http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ma.9wWwngOfc


Silvia Maestrelli: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cgUvUgMTrE&feature=related Federico Curtaz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= 5 Hqo4005DJc&featu re= related

Wine-tasting video by Federico Curtaz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gg VYVDchZc&feature= related http://www.youtube.com/watcn?v=Dep232607RO


Contrada Rovittello, Via Nazionale SS 120 n° 22 - 95012 Castiglione di Sicilia (CT) blog: www.cuntu.it - www.divinando.blogspot.com

e-mail: silviamaestrelli@villapetriolo.com-silviamaestrelii@tenutadifessina.com federico@federicocurtaz.it - federicocu rtaz@tenutadifessina.com

Silvia Maestrelli/mob. 335.7220021

Federico Curtaz/mob. 348.0115329