Nino Barraco produces some 35,000 bottles a year from his vineyards near Marsala, Sicily, where he cultivates such native varieties as Grillo, Catarratto, Zibibbo and Nero d’Avola.
He markets several labels, each of which aims to express its territory. “What we have in mind is not a ‘perfect’ wine, but one that’s recognizable for its personality, where the dissonant notes play a strong role in characterizing the wine itself. In order to reach this objective, we carefully avoid the sort of homogenization that comes with technical tampering, and rely on the complexity and inconstancy of nature.”
This being the winery’s manifesto, vineyard management follows the principles of organic agriculture, which rules out any recourse to chemicals, and winery management painstakingly steers away from anything that would force nature: thus, spontaneous fermentation, no temperature control during vinification and no clarifying or filtering before bottling.
The winery’s champenois sparkling wine follows these same rules. The harvest, in 2011, was early, and the Grillo grapes were vinified in stainless steel, without maceration. Refermentation in the bottle began in February 2012, using cane sugar and vat sediments that triggered indigenous yeasts. Dégorgement took place in September 2016 and the bottles were topped up with the same wine, without the addition of sulfites.
The result is a wine that throws you a curve ball, with a bouquet that fluctuates from iodized nuances to toasted corn. Rich and intense on the palate, it never slips into self-centered or superficial virtuosity, also thanks to a hint of savory freshness that pervades the palate and lingers, sinuous and deep, lasting long after the tasting experience is over. “This is a wine that enabled me to explore uncharted territory in the terroir and the grape, and their untapped potential,” says the grower.