Minggu, 13 November 2016

Sicily - Meeting Vini Gambino, our day at a winery


In full disclosure, I did not take this picture, but more on that below...
 
Try saying it with your best Italian accent... "hey, Vini Gambino!".
Haha, sounds like something out a Godfather movie.
Actually,  "vini" is just winery!

Sicily is one of those places that maybe you haven’t spent a lot of time considering.   
You may think “the Godfather” and spicy sauces, but not much else.  Until you go there… 

Sicily is like a three pointed island, and the symbol of the island is a slightly disturbing female head with three legs sprouting from it; each leg symbolizing the corners of the island.  (Shown in the photo on the left,lower corner)
The top NE “leg” of the island, is where we got off the boat in Messina, the 3rd largest city on the island. A car and driver took the six of us to take us to Taormina, a beautiful Roman/Greek town on high mountain slopes above the sea.  We drove for over an hour on twisty hillsides going up, up, up until we reached seemingly pinnacle outlooks for the view of the towns and beaches below.  

 We spent some time exploring in Taormina but the event of the day was a lunch and tour at a local winery. We drove up, up, up again towards Mount Etna.  Mount Etna is the largest active volcano inEurope, and when you ask the last time it erupted, you usually hear … yesterday!   
Yes, it is that active.   
Unfortunately for us, the day was quite cloudy, with only moments of clearing to view the sites, our driver sent us a picture he took of Etna on a day she was blowing off steam (pictured above).
While Italy is very well known for their wines and is usually #1 in the world for top producing country (going back and forth with France in the last decade), but you don’t often hear of great Sicilian wines.  The reason is quite simple, many of the wineries in Sicily are small and most of their wines do not get exported, Gambino is one exception that exports.  The  Gambino Winery is on the hilly slopes below Etna and are distinctive for their minerality from the volcanic ash that peppers the vineyards below.  The volcanic ground ( called “ripiddu”) is very rich in minerals salts which supplies an equilibrated sugar content of the grapes and a proper relation between acids and alcohol. 
Which simply means, the wine can have some high alcohol content!

There were many terraces of established vines as we ascended to the wineryitself.  The Gambino winery has been in operation for over 25 years and is family owned, however the new winery building is quite new, state of the art, and quite lovely.

Normally, the view from the winery can give you views of the island and the hillside towns below, the day we visited it was most socked in with low clouds and misty rain.  

It did clear for a short time, and we saw this view, which is pretty nice, especially with a good glass of wine in your hand.


We managed a walk of the vines and winery grounds before the rains started.

This guy was totally enjoying his wine, huh?

Eventually we headed in to view the wine making operation.  The grapes are picked by hand to ensure the ripeness of the fruit. Inside we walked through the stainless tanks, the oak barrel aging room, the bottling operation and the label machine.
Upstairs we headed to the tasting room for a lunch and wine tasting.   
























We tasted four wines, two whites and two reds that were paired to our lunch.
Here's the meats and cheeses, a yummy lemon jam and a little couscous salad.  We ended with a local spicy sausage that paired well with their bold red wine.
The condiments/accoutrements, not shown was the wonderful fresh baked semolina french bread.
 



We tried four wines, they were all terrific:

- Feu d'O- White

- Tifeo- White

- Tifeo- Red

- Duvanera- Red












The steel tanks were huge and filled a couple of big rooms


Aging room filled with casks of french oak


















 


 The bottling machine



The label and cork "sleeve" machine

The rest of the group was chatting with this guy operating the machine, but I could see that the group was standing in his way to refill the bottles to keep the machine going, so I got to work and started loading it while the others talked.  













 

I like that this shot caught the motion of my hair as I filled the chute with bottles needing labels.


As we made our purchases, the clouds started to become more heavy and the skies darkened.  The sudden clap of thunder, and lightening was so loud and close to us, caused everyone to gasp.  We ran to the waiting van with our purchases just in time to witness a torrential downpour of rain.  As we snaked back down the twisty roads the rain made huge rushing rivers following along with our van. It was a good day.


Here's a link to their website

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