- Tasting Notes & Technical Details
The Mandrarossa wines come from a selection of the best sites from Cantine Settesoli’s 6,000 hectares of vineyard, situated in southwestern Sicily and planted with 32 different grape varieties. The vineyards are split between the 2,000 members of the co-op, and cover the area around Selinunte, the hauntingly beautiful ruins of a Greek town founded 2,600 years ago. Cantine Settesoli helps to support the restoration of this archaeological site.
First produced in 1999, Mandrarossa has opened its own winery in 2021, a completely sustainable winery fed by solar panels and well integrated with the surrounding hills. The winery has increasingly focused on single-site wines, as it was conceived after the diverse soils of the vineyards were mapped, enabling the winemakers to focus on what were then ranked their best sites. Under the leadership of co-operative president Giuseppe Bursi, consultant winemaker Alberto Antonini has sought to improve viticulture, which has resulted in better wines.
Working with soil specialist Pedro Parra and head winemaker Mimmo De Gregorio, Alberto has selected 500 hectares of vineyard, from 160 growers, for the production of the Mandrarossa wines. These vineyards are situated close to the sea, where intense sunlight, moderating sea breezes, mild temperatures, multiple elevations and a myriad of different soil types combine to give the quality of grapes that Mimmo and Alberto are looking for. Pedro has singled out limestone as the soil with the highest potential for quality wines.
Given the wealth of sites and varieties they at their disposal, it isn’t surprising that they have several different styles of wines. The native varieties focus on Sicilian grapes such as Nero d’Avola, Grillo, Grecanico and dry Zibibbo – which is now certified organic from 2021 vintage along with Fiano. The international varieties include Syrah, Chardonnay and Fiano, “the foreigner” from across the straits of Messina. The ‘Innovation’ wines are named after different ‘contrade’, small districts within a commune whose wines have shown an individuality that warrants a unique or distinctive blend.
At the top of the hierarchy are the wines made from single sites, 75 hectares from 37 growers that have been selected by Pedro’s vineyard mapping. Their ‘Cartagho’, from a sandy vineyard in the Torrenova ‘contrada’ that is regarded as the best source of Nero d’Avola, is the iconic Mandrarossa wine, having won ‘Tre Bicchieri’ six times in recent years.
In 2019 two ‘contrada’ wines were released: the ‘Bertolino Soprano’ Grillo and the ‘Terre di Sommacco’ Nero d’Avola. Two new interpretations of these classic varietals that highlight and demonstrate the results of site selection in this area. To allow the grapes from these sites to express their maximum potential, Cantine Settesoli has focussed on minimal intervention in the vineyard. 870 hectares of their vineyards are farmed organically, and their sustainable and environmentally aware approach is unrivalled in Sicily. They have one of the largest solar energy installations in the Italian winemaking sector, ensuring that the Sicilian sun not only ripens the grapes, but also powers the winery equipment, thereby reducing their carbon dioxide emissions.
The new sweet Serapias comes from Mandrarossa’s new project on the island of Pantelleria. Made of partly dried Zibibbo (Muscat of Alexandria) grapes that are added to the fermenting must, the resulting wine shows delicate aromatic notes.
Cantine Settesoli is an impressive operation, one of Italy’s outstanding co-operatives, and the Mandrarossa wines are their most impressive contribution to Sicilian wine.
The vineyards for this wine are located in the area around Menfi on the south-western coast of Sicily. Vines grow on south facing hills at 80-200 metres above sea level on limestone soil. Vines are Guyot trained and planted at a density of 4,300-4,700 plants per hectare.
In 2021, the winter months were characterised by heavy rainfall, sometimes exceeding 200 millimetres, particularly during February and March. The spring was relatively dry, specifically during April there was hardly any rainfall, an average of 3 millimetres. During the delicate phases of fruit set, the rains were absent and the temperatures dropped slightly reducing the percentage of fruit set in some varieties. Yields were lower than usual, but the grapes harvested retained their beautiful aromatic quality and fresh acidic characteristics.
The grapes were hand harvested in the middle of September. After being crushed and destemmed, the must was immediately cooled to 5-8°C and kept at these temperatures for four to six hours. The must was then softly pressed and the juice obtained was clarified at a low temperature for 36 hours. The clear must was fermented in stainless-steel tanks for 15-20 days at 16-18°C. The wine was aged for four months in steel vats and another three months in the bottle before release.
This wine is straw yellow in colour. The nose is decidedly intense and aromatic, notes of sage, jasmine, lavender with fresh hints of apple and cedar. On the palate the wine is intense and medium-bodied, has a beautiful acidity and flavour and an excellent aromatic finish.