As a Sicilian, I am very pleased to be writing this offer; we have offered Sicilian wines before, but never have we offered a wine made from a variety as obscure as Perricone and the 2018 Perricone Vigna del Core, Feudo Montoni is one of the best examples I have tasted.
Much like the rest of Italy, Sicily is home to a fascinating array of indigenous grape varieties, some barely known outside of the region. One such grape is Perricone, an ancient, native, black grape which I have tasted a number of times over the years when back home, and which always impresses me for its elegance and structural complexity. Though it is virtually unknown today, this was in fact the most planted variety in the provinces of Palermo and Trapani by the end of the 19th century, until phylloxera nearly wiped it out. Being particularly susceptible to phylloxera, those vineyards that were replanted, were planted with the easily cultivated Nero d’Avola. Despite near extinction, Perricone is undergoing a small renaissance (well at least with me) with a growing number of small artisanal producers planting and producing increasingly fine examples.
The Feudo Montoni estate has a long history, with records showing winemaking here dating back as far as 1469. Rosario Sireci purchased the Feudo Montoni estate in the late 19th century, and now it is his grandson Fabio who is at the helm. Located in the very heart of Sicily, the Montoni estate stretches 80 hectares, with vineyards between 500 and 700 metres above sea level on east-facing slopes. The inland location and east-facing aspect are crucial factors to ensure full phenolic ripeness of this very late ripening variety, and the altitude ensures cooler night time temperatures, enhancing aromatics and freshness. For the last 30 years, Fabio has been upholding his grandfather’s philosophy of making traditional wines with minimal intervention. Today, Feudo Montoni is certified organic and all work in the vineyard is carried out by hand, before fermentation in a mixture of cement tanks and old oak barrels, with very little new oak employed so as not to mask the expression of the variety and terroir.
Historically, Perricone was blended with Nero d’Avola to soften its tannins, but with careful winemaking that need not be the case. Improved vineyard practices and softer extractions have led to 100% varietal Perricone wines that offer brilliant potential. Typically, the wines are deeply coloured with red berry fruit, refreshing acidity, firm, well-integrated tannins and an earthy, herbal note. Feudo Montoni’s Perricone comes from vines of over 40 years of age, and I was hugely impressed when I tasted. Intense perfumed aromas of red cherry, raspberry and wild fennel on the nose, lively and well-delineated on the palate with notes of juicy summer berries and savoury herbs, this is a really impressive showing from Montoni and it looks sure to reward mid-term cellarage. Very little about this wine suggests it was produced in the heat of the south – that is due to the altitude and sites on which it is grown.