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Sicily and the Loire, Summer 2012

Sicily June 2012

Sourced on my “ Lunar de Miele” near Alcamo which is a 40 minute drive south from Palermo, on this tough and brutal island, we discover  Bosco Falconeria one of the first “ organic” vineyards here.

The drive is fun. Very good fun. Windy hot roads take us up into the hills near Alcamo and then from there we head along a red dirt track into olive groves and rough and dry farmland that is simply hot! Really hot! Its over 40 degrees outside.

We ended up staying for about six hours and after a lovely vineyard and farm tour we sat down for a feast prepared by Mary, the founder of the farm and vineyard together with Toni and their

It was truly one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had on Mr Whirly’s vineyard tours. We ate the most lovely lunch: fresh ricotta cheese, Mary’s own take on the famous Sicilian dish, Caponata,

We tasted some lovely wines during the lunch, most joyous of all was their Cattarato 2009, which I found very complex, full of layers and different mineral tones and a pure delight to drink.

( opposite is the house at Bosco, the delightful donkey  and the lovely little tractor!)

Winemakers notes on the Cattarato grape:

“ The Catarratto grape from our farm used to be taken in casks by cart to the little port town of Balestrate, where it was sold to make Martini, Carpano to be made into vermouth. It was usually about 17-19% alcohol. The production of lighter wines for table wine through a change in pruning and harvesting only became really important in Sicily in the last 50 years. Tonino took over the management of the farm in 1966, but none of the vines that were here then are still in production. Most of our present vineyards have been planted within the last 20 years. The usual productive life span of vineyards in Sicily is about 25 years, and they are replanted only after an interval of about 5 years.

The grapes are the Catarratto comune and the Catarratto extra-lucido. Training the vines on canes is a traditional practise in this area, known as “all’alcamese”.

the Loire….to follow shortly!




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Fruili wine adventure, February 2012

Mr Whirly discovers the joys of Collio in the barren and stark hills of Fruili in the most North Eastern point of Italy.

Its Friday 17th February and “ Little Miss” and I are whirling through the naked hills of this fascinating wine region, in our rather speedy Renault Clio, looking for a little Trattoria, recommended to us a few minutes earlier by Marzia, the very hospitable wife of the owner at Buzzinelli vineyards, just outside Cormons, in the heart of this undiscovered and unique wine region. When in Italy drive like the Italians I say, as we whisk around the country corners in search of “ Trattoria Dal Mic” in a little town called Mossa. What a fabulous restaurant this turned out to be by the way: amazing  Pumpkin Gnocchi, beef and the Malvasia from a local winemaker was sublime: at the end we joined a large table of 10 or more Triestian gentleman, in their 70‘s and 80‘s, and laughed the afternoon away. Old people are so fascinating! Little Miss ordered Grappa. It was a scary journey back to our Picech vineyard, where we were staying.

Go back about Eighteen hours and we had just entered Cormons after a day fun in Venice, Mr Whirly’s first visit. A lovely little jaunt, though too many people for me to be honest, since its the festival of the mask there. I did enjoy a lovely delicacy, Frissente Venetian I think it was called: a pure delight of naughtiness, candied fruit inside a little doughnut of Panettone, quite the most sublime thing I have ever tasted. In Cormons, we headed straight to the Enoteca de Cormons in the main Piazza. Here, all the local winemakers are represented by this wonderfully friendly establishment and we were able to taste the following wines;

Ribella Gialla ( varietal from this region)

Buzzinelli, Collio, 2010

Kurtin, Collio 2010

The two wines above were outstanding, especially the Buzzinelli wine


Renzo Scubia, 2010

Picech, Collio, 2010

Friulano ( another varietal from this region)

Magnas, 2010

Brunko, 2010

The following morning “ Little Miss “ and I visited the vineyard of Buzzinelli. It took us about two hours to find the vineyard since in Italy I find none of the numbers of the road make any sense in terms of being in any sort of sensical order, but finally we made it to the small holding and were looked after by Marzia, the wife of the owner. It so happened that we arrived on the day of  the

“Festival of the Pig”

so the local farmers were in the process of killing a pig and making Salami as well as Prosciutto. That night they were going to to cook the very large liver with onions for their celebratory dinner. Buzzinelli are a third generation vineyard, started in 1937, originally the family were from France.

We were only able to taste one wine in the cellar here since sadly all the wines were sold out. The Traminer, same as with Gewurtz on the front, was beautifully made. They also make, to taste at some point in the future, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Ribella Gialla wine steals the show; a grape that dates back to the 13th century, cut in the fields of Slovenia where they call it “ Gold Ribella” since the fields turn to gold. They also make a Picolot wine, made in small production, hence the name since not all the flowers turn to berries. More on this when I get to taste it. Its apparently rivals a great Sauterne.

The next day we drove to Trieste and then turned left into Slovenia to see what we could find there.










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Bosco Falconeria, Azienda Biologica Simeti-Taylor, Partinico, Sicily

Organic Cattarato 2010

Mr Whirly says:

“In the 1960’s Mary Taylor left New York city for Palermo for six months vacation. She fell in love with a Sicilian, her husband Tonino, and stayed there. She set up, with Tonino, high up in the hills above Palermo, her own organic vegetable farm and was one of the first Organic vineyards in Sicily. Natalia her daughter makes the wines and cares for the vines. Cattarato is widely planted in the western side of Sicily. There’s a lot of it since Sicily produces a lot of wine. This is no ordinary Cattarato: bush trained vines called “ Alberello” and vertical trellis for eight year old vines at 800 feet. Fermented in tank, temperature controlled. This wine evokes smokey peaches and apricots with some lovely woody touches, except its straight out of stainless steel tank. Its complex, rounded and elegant . Lovely expression of this grape and a great food wine. We had it with some lovely fresh Caponata and other salad’s, straight from Mary’s garden and it was a match made in Sicily.”


Alcohol: 12.0%

P1020848Mr whirly with Mary, Natalia and Tonino after the most splendid of lunches, June 2rd 2012

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Velenosi, Marche

My first venture into the delights of the Italian wine world where the romance and passion of the wines and people is so strong.


When I was in Los Angeles in April 2010 and about to get stuck by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud I visited Pizzeria Morro, voted by local LA foodies in Zagats (USA version of the Good food Guide) as the most popular restaurant in this sprawling metropolis. I arrived at the restaurant, slightly worn out after a long walk from the Hollywood hills and Sean, the barman, looked after me beautifully, especially after he found out I was in the wine business. Within twenty minutes I had tasted five wines and one of them was the one on the right here. I visited the vineyard in November 2010, returned in late March 2011 to taste the new Vintage I started to import this wine, Lacrima di Morro from D’Alba, as well as a white grape from the area, Passerina in May 2011. They are wines that emphasise the beauty and romance of the wine business in Italy.


LaCrima di Morro D’alba, ( from D’Alba just east of Ancona) 2012

Mr Whirly says:

“ An extraordinary “Turkish delight” wine that really is very unique. I fell in love with this wine in Los Angeles 24 months ago and still love it. ”

Alc vol: 13.0%


Passerina 2012

Mr Whirly says:

“ A wonderful aperitif wine that exudes a sensuous bee’s wax feel with some honeysuckle aroma’s too. This wine originates around Ascoli Piceno in Marche.”

Alc vol: 12.5%


Visciole 2012

Mr Whirly says:

“ A top wine for all seasons. This wine rocks with Black forest gateau and Eton Mess.”

Alc vol: 14.5%

50 cl bottles ( very beautiful, see middle picture)

Winemakers tasting notes:

“ This is a traditional way of making pudding wine in Marche that dates back many centuries. It’s made my blending unripened black cherries with red grapes. The basic ingredient is sour cherries (called Visciola). Based on a traditional recipe, sour cherries are harvested, they ripen during the first weeks of July, and are left to soak in sugar, partly whole and partly crushed. This product is then decanted for a few days and finally filtered. A syrup with high concentration of sugar is thus obtained, which is then mixed with wine. Strawberry, raspberry, ripe wild cherries, jam aroma’s, scents of peach and ripe pear.”


My passion for Italian wines grew seventeen years ago with the purchase of a Ducati 900ss in 1994 and the subsequent journey’s south to its homeland to see what it made of the Italian hill roads. This journey took me to Barolo and Barbaresco before heading south to Chianti and Brunello de Montalcino. On one road heading up to Volterra with my twin Di on the back, he remarked it was like a real life “ Pac-Man” computer game as I gobbled up the cars on the rattle snake curved road up to this gorgeous little town, famous for its coloured stone.

Please click on the link below for the wines:


Velenosi, Ascoli Piceno


Bosco Falconeria, Partinico

P1020866Mount Etna smoking away in June

P1020874A bowl of homemade spaghetti served with winemakers below Etna

P1020827Vines at Bosco Falconeria, high up in the hills south of Palermo

P1010403The cliffs of the adriatic near Ancona near D’Alba, Marche

P1020846Pink blossom, Bosco Falconeria