Sicilian wine adventures – Part 6; the Aeolian islands



There’s something about me, islands and volcanoes. Bewitchment and fear at the very same. It probably started almost twenty years ago when I toured Iceland and did some volcano hiking. Then, along with a growing passion for wine, I discovered the combo of wine, islands and volcanoes; Madeira and Sicily.

Island people fascinates me. Volcanic island people even more. They seem to be gifted with a built-in calmness and satisfaction. At least the Sicilians and Madeirense. Can’t help but wonder then how the Eolians are like…

My Sicilian wine adventures includes the little archipelago just north of the island, the Aeolian islands. Now, this is volcanic islands; one of them is even named Vulcano! Listen to the names; Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea and Basiluzzo. Beautiful! On the island of Salina with a surface area of 27 km² there’s a wine producer you need to know about. Azienda Agricola Hauner.

Carlo Hauner was a painter from Brescia. He visited the island for the first time in 1963 and kept returning for many summers. Then, in the seventies he realized this was paradise and moved to Salina. Hauner was fascinated by the local Malvasia delle Lipari grape which were allowed to dry for two weeks after harvest, resulting in the Passito della Lipari. He studied the methods used by the local farmers, learned more modern wine making techniques before he decided to start his own vineyard.

The vineyards are steep, between 20 and 35%, and located at 50-100 meters above sea level. Volcanic soil which means rich in organic substance and minerals. The vines are trained the Guyot way and has a density of 5,000 vines per hectare. Besides the ancient Malvasia delle Lipari, the Azienda, today run by Carlo Hauner Jr and Gianfranco Sabbatino, cultivates Calabrese, Cataratto, Corinto Nero, Grecanico, Grillo, Inzolia, Sangiovese and of course, Nerello Mascalese. By the way; Calabrese is the local name for Nero d’Avola…

So, what’s a red Hauner like? First out; Hierà.

Hierà is dedicated to James Stevenson, a Scottish who first planted vines on the island. An eruption in 1888 destroyed the vineyard and all that Stevenson had created.

Calabrese, Sangiovese, Corinto Nero

Tasting note on the 2008 Hierà

Dark red color. Oozing of black cherries, humid earth, spices, tobacco, licorice and sun-drenched blackberries. Still young. Will be interesting to see what scents it will develop with age.

On the palate the long skin maceration says hello. Plenty of tannins backed up by an acidity typical for grapes on volcanic soil. Plenty of dark berries, sun-drenched raspberries, some oak, humus and tobacco. Quite rich. Spicy, slightly scorched finish.

A blend of Calabrese, Sangiovese and Corinto Nero. One year in barrique. No, the Italian regulations doesn’t like this so it’s a IGT, Indicazione Geographica Tipica. I like it. After all, it’s…..volcanic.

(2008 Hierà, Carlo Hauner, Salina, 88-89 p)

Europeans will find it here. Americans here.

PS. I’m an islander myself. No volcanoes though.