Organic, mafia-free wines
This week’s featured winery, Valdibella, was introduced to us by Stefano Borsa of Pacina. Valdibella is a small cooperative, owned by six growers and friends with a shared commitment to produce authentic natural wines. In addition to grapes, they grow olives and almonds, all organically and following biodynamic principles. They hand harvest the grapes and minimally intervene in the winemaking process. Only native grapes, seldom seen outside the region, are used, resulting in pure, unadulterated Sicilian wines.
On top of being environmentally conscious, Valdibella also has a social mandate: these wines are mafia free. In Italian, pizzo means protection money paid to you-know-who. In 2004, a group of young people founded Addio Pizzo (goodbye to Pizzo), a protest movement against racket imposed on Sicilian shopkeepers by the mafia. By bearing the slogan on their wines, Valdibella provides an opportunity for people to support pizzo-free business. The winery also gives a portion of their proceeds to local at-risk youth, as part of their commitment to social change.
There has been a winemaking revitalization happening in the South of Italy that is reflected by the style of Valdibella’s wines. Overripe, high alcohol wines are pushed aside in favour of bright, fresh and elegant wines that express the character of the region. This is helped by the high elevation of the vineyards, some at 500 meters above sea level, to provide relief from the heat. Valdibella has recently begun experimenting with a couple of sulfite-free wines, as part of their pursuit to be as authentic and natural as possible.