The wine and the surprising Valle del Belice
Sicily is one of the most wine-growing regions of Europe and driving through it by car or better by motorcycle, travellers are immersed among hills and rows of vines whose colours are marked by the alternation of the seasons. In particular, through the western side of the region, one seems to enter inside the bucolic pictures of Franco Fontana, between plowed fields and blooms.
The advice of choosing the two wheels as a means of transportation is double: firstly to escape or at least dodge the traffic and secondly to be wrapped in mutating landscapes and involved by smells and sounds that gently adapt to changing territories.
The recipe seems designed to impress even the most discerning wine lovers without fearing confrontation with the noble Burgundy, the twists and turns of the Moselle or the investments of the Napa Valley.
The Planeta family is one of the great protagonists of Sicilian viticulture thanks to the renowned combination of tradition and innovation, which helps to promote the territory and its products around the world.
The historic estate of Ulmo located near Sambuca di Sicilia, overlooking Lake Arancio greets with the elegance and hospitality of the past. It’s Chiara Planeta who welcomes us in Ulmo on a gloomy morning and takes us for a stroll along the perimeter of the estate, dotted with olive trees, whilst narrating the story of her family who has owned the estate since 1500. The passion for wine and cuisine is clearly genetic. The family crest, reported on the wine labels, depicts the sun, the moon and three stars.
Crossing the surrounding vineyards of Merlot and Chardonnay, Chiara shows us the various land patches devoted to the wine labels of Planeta. The Grecanico for Alastro; The Nero d'Avola for Plumbago and La Segreta red and Syrah for Syrah Maroccoli.
Of course, much progress has been made over the centuries in order to have six wine estates in five different locations throughout Sicily.
In particular, the Belice Valley is a land that has always been tied to agriculture, with products of great excellence, front facing tourism only recently, again in the wake of some entrepreneurs who were able to express the potential of this territory for lovers of quality and peace.
Chiara, the lady of the estate, reminds us that Sicily is a particularly dry island and Lake Arancio allows for a microclimate which provides perfect humidity for the vineyards that surround it. In spring and autumn, she recommends a trekking through the vineyards, paying attention to the scents of wild herbs and flowers as well as the harmonious calm of the majestic pine forest just behind the estate.
Leaving the estate of Ulmo, the journey inevitably ends at the Foresteria Planeta that emerges from swaying curves surrounded by vineyards. Worthy finale where to enjoy the sea view with a glass of wine in your hand and the scents of aromatic herbs that surround the boutique country guesthouse.
Guests get ready for the evening session of wine tasting right after sunset in the beautiful tasting room, as anticipation of the wondrous dinner prepared by talented chef Angelo Pumilia, whose dishes are refined to match, of course, the wines and oils of the house.
Tasting notes and pairing to historical recipes of the Planeta family.
Grecanico 70%, Grillo 15%, Sauvignon Blanc 15%
The color is pale straw typical of a light and delicate wine, the nose is rather intense and fragrant with notes of summer fruit and Mediterranean bush. The palate is consistent and refreshing with a good finish.
Match: tenerumi (zucchini flowers) soup
Nero d’Avola 100%
Violet coloured purple offers aromas of plum and blackberries with spicy sensations and dried flowers. The tannin is well present with a long finish.
Pairing: sausage cooked in wine
A very dark ruby colour, on the nose there are hints of black berries, plums, dark chocolate, black pepper, leather and foxy and balsamic notes. Very long finish and intense tannins.
Pairing: lamb roll with herbs
Ruby color, the nose has hints of blackberry fruit, violet, lavender with secondary notes of cocoa and coffee. Long final and fine tannins.
Pairing: pork rolls
Golden color, on the nose it has buttery notes, summer fruit, honey and sugar cane. Supported by a never intrusive acidity, it is characterized by softness and freshness.
Pairing: paddlefish wheel with herbs
We lastly invite you to try the new arrivals of Casa Planeta, presented in preview at Vinitaly 2017: Melfi’s chardonnay Didacus; the ancient Mamertino (loved by Giulio Cesare) of Capo Milazzo; and the fragrant grillo Trebinto.
Musical pairing: Saro Tribastone – Danza De La Luna Nueva.