Courtesy of our long friendship with Giampiero Bea, the Umbrian wunderkind and son of Paolo Bea, we had the special good fortune of meeting Gaetano and Nicoletta Gargano, the proprietors of Il Censo, an estate of 65 hectares situated in Bivona in the south-central zone of Sicily near the town of Palazzo Adriana, the site of the wonderful film, Cinema Paradiso. Gaetano’s family, through his mother’s side (family name: Spoto), has owned Il Censo for over 200 years. Production over the years was principally of grains and legumes but there was also a small vineyard planted to Perricone and Malvasia Nera and an old olive grove the trees of which are now 100 years of age. The name “Il Censo” literally means “census” but in this instance most likely refers to the obligations of the tenant farmers to pay tribute to the landowning family, a system that dates back to feudal times. The name predates the Spoto time of ownership.
As has been the case so often, much of the agricultural activity at Il Censo was abandoned over the years. Gaetano met Giampiero Bea about 25 years ago and fell in love with the work the Bea family was doing in Montefalco. Ultimately, Gaetano determined to reinvigorate the farming activity at Il Censo and, with the guidance of Giampiero, began by planting 5 hectares of vineyards split between the white Cataratto grape and the black Perricone variety. The vineyards are situated high on an undulating volcanic outcropping. An additional four hectares have recently been planted which will come into production between the 2015 and 2017 vintages. This newest planting regime includes Nero d’Avola and Malvasia Nera in addition to Cataratto and Perricone.
The olive grove has also been revived and is now producing about 500 liters of a certified organic, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, small quantities of which will make its way into our hands for the US market.
The entire agricultural enterprise is managed organically. Vinification is conducted under the principles developed by Giampiero Bea. Our first viticultural foray into Sicily has already proven to be an exciting adventure, a natural extension of our nearly forty year immersion in the wines of Italy.
|Njuro – Terre Siciliane Rosso: produced exclusively from the Perricone grape, also known in local dialect as “njuro cane” (the black dog); vineyards are farmed organically and grapes are harvested manually, with harvest occurring usually in October; fermentation occurs over two to three weeks with indigenous yeasts and minimal or no use of sulfur and without temperature control; the wine is neither fined nor filtered before bottling.|
|Praruar – Terre Siciliane Bianco: produced exclusively from Catarratto grapes grown on the Il Censo estate outside of Palazzo Adriano; vineyards are farmed organically and grapes are harvested manually, with harvest occurring usually in October; the grapes maintain contact with the skins for two to three weeks, the length of the maceration depending on the vintage; only indigenous yeasts are used during fermentation and no temperature controls are utilized; the wines is bottled with being fined or filtered.|
|“Provvido”: is produced from Nero d’Avola grown at 650 meters altitude and aged in the non-interventionist style of Gaetano’s mentor, Giampiero Bea: no added yeasts, no temperature stabilization, no fining or filtering, and a minimum of added sulfur dioxide (total sulfur is 65 mg/L). 2016 marks the first vintage for this, RWM’s first ever Nero d’Avola, and it is a delightful addition to Il Censo’s lineup: deep in color, exuberant in personality, and an exceptional value as well. Fruits lean toward black cherry and blackberry, with notes of licorice and dark chocolate. It’s a proud sun-drenched southerner, ample and gregarious, but with tons of high-toned spice to balance, as well as a well-mannered flirtation with volatility that remains firmly on the correct side of the fence.|