Feudo Montoni - Sicilian Royalty Arrives in Australia

Feudo Montoni is one of Italy’s best but still relatively little known estates. In fact, despite boasting a line-up of great wines and having been around for some time, Feudo Montoni (the winery is housed in a villa that dates back to 1469) does not enjoy the fame and visibility of Sicily’s many larger wineries. I have no doubt that this will all change soon enough, because there are few estates anywhere in Italy making more compelling wines today.

Owner Fabio Sireci isn’t just passionate and knowledgeable, he is also extremely talented. That skill is attested to by a rare degree of proficiency with a number of different Sicilian native varieties. Feudo Montoni’s Grillo, Insolia and Cataratto wines are also amongst the best examples of their respective grape varieties. However, it is with Nero d’Avola that Sireci attains his greatest results. Sireci’s two Nero d’Avolas, Lagnusa and Vrucara, rank alongside Italy’s best reds. Each wine has a unique personality: the former is a fresher, earlier-maturing wine, while the latter is a more ageworthy, tactile and deeper Sicilian red. But as good as the Nero d’Avola Lagnusa is, it is the Vrucara that is one of Italy’s most noteworthy red wines. IAN D'AGATA, www.vinousmedia.com

As the South of Italy continues to open up to the greater wine drinking world, a treasure trove of varieties and producers are gradually emerging from years in the shadows to offer incredibly interesting and diverse wines. Of course, one of the single most exciting areas has been the Island province of Sicily and, while it's the wines off Mt Etna that have received the lion's share of critical acclaim in recent years, the rest of the island is slowly revealing the breadth of quality across Sicily's many, many micro climates.

One welcome addition to the Australian wine scene are the wines of Feudo Montoni from the high altitude (500-600 metres above sea level) climbs in the Valledolmo region of central western Sicily. The estate is thought to be one of the oldest on the island tracing its heritage back to the 1800s and all the current day vineyards have been planted using massale selection from those original plantings. Organic viticulture is the order of the day and the vinification is pitched at preserving fruit and terroir expression rather than pushing winemaking front and centre.

We tasted these wines last week and were immediately impressed by the fresher more energetic portrayal of these varieties we're used to seeing off the island. The whites (Cattarrato and Grillo) couple-up vivid aromatics of fresh cut fruit flecked by mineral. The fruit aromas lead you toward exotic but the palate on both wines is full of bristling energy and purity - one imagines this comes from the altitude more than anything else. Similarly, the red Nero d'Avola bears no resemblance to the warm, jammed up versions that seem to be the dominant style from other parts of Sicily and the South. Instead this wine gives you an altogether more pure and vibrant interpretation. Brimming with cranberry, dark plum and bramble, the wine is both refreshing and intense: a wonderful balance of the generous peasant nature of the variety with fine-boned structure.

This is a great new addition to the Aussie scene and we highly recommend them. Quantities are limited so please be quick if you wish to grab a few bottles.