Sicilian wine adventures – Part 18; cult wine or not?


I don’t like cult wines. That is, the use of the term. Few wines in the world deserves the epithet, yet it is being used way too generously on wines not coming up to more than one of the prerequisites of cult wines. If even that. The main reason, if there is one, is not only about a wine’s scarsity, but rather the crazy sums people are prepared to pay for a bottle. For example, you need to have the right contacts in order to pick up a bottle of Screaming Eagle, even if you’re willing to prepare the price asked for. That is not the case of Palari’s Faro and yet people refer to it as a cult wine – due to the tiny production.

Faro is a miniscule appellation with its six hectares in the vicinity of Messina on Sicily. Yes, it has its followers, loyal ones that seems reluctant to speak about the wine. Perhaps it’s the fear that Faro will become a cult wine?  For a Sicilian red it is pricey but not nearby a cult wine’s qualifications – yet.

Da uve autoctone quali nerello, cappuccio, nocera , acitana, tignolino, galatena, calabrese …..

Yup. Indigenous grapes. Again. Palari’s Faro is based on two times Nerello with tiny amounts of the rest. Together with the oenologist Donato Lanati, the owner Salvatore Geraci, has formed the wine of Faro in a semi-modern style. Although Nerello-based it doesn’t resemble the wines of Etna, more of a Barbaresco meets Sicily meets Troncais and Allier barriques. One year in oak, at least one year in bottle.

You seldomly read about Faro. Being one of the smallest DOC’s of Italy, like France’s Chateau Grillet, it is more of the kind you bump into in a tasting amongst wine geeks. And fall in love with….

2007 Rosso del Soprano, 89-90 points

Simply inspired by the concept of the second wines of Bordeaux, the Soprano is the little brother of Faro. Half of it ages in the barriques and the other half goes into inox ageing. Ruby color. The 2007 is a great and most accessible glass. Sweet seductive red fruit combined with spices, pipe tobacco, sweet-rot and pomeogranate. Ripe tannins and more easy-going acidity than the Etna Nerello. Lead pencil. For a second it reminds me of a really good Beaujolais Cru. Some concentration which comes hand in hand with the ripe fruit. A fine glass with cellar potential, say a further four or five years.

2006 Faro Palari, 91-92 points

Not high-altitude as Etna Nerello but still, we’re at around 400 meters above sea-level. Yields are kept low, around 1 kg per vine. Ruby, transparent color. Decanted for some hours, it shows a quite big and concentrated nose of cherries, the more sour kind, clove, black pepper, tobacco, dried flowers and humus. Only a slight oak touch where the vanilla reminds you of the oak treatment. Some hours later; a beautiful scent of aged balsamico.

First, on the palate, you think sweet and ripe red berries. A second later it changes character to a really dry style with a slightly robust tannin structure. Lots of tobacco, red cherries, pomeogranate, balsamico and oriental spices. Good structure, balanced fruit and slightly less acidity than an Etna grown Nerello. Long taste with pure red berries. Probably in need of some cellaring but the 2006 isn’t the best of the Faro wines, so don’t keep for too long. Ten years from vintage date?

Expect to pay around 40 euros for the latest released vintage. Vintages vary quite a lot so do keep in mind this will be reflected in the pricing of older vintages. For those not prepared to pay the price, the second wine – the Rosso del Palari – is less than twenty. Especially the 2007 is a great find.

Can be found here. Wine-searched. Click here for the result.