Il Censo Terre Siciliane Provvido 2017
So, why all the commotion over this $25 buck red wine from Sicily? Two words: Giampero Bea, the son of legendary Paolo Bea. Their winery in Umbria shattered the mold of what was typically being done in Italy when the winery came to prominence, sticking to their organic and natural ways rather than succumb to the commercial and technical methods that had become all the rage.
In the early days of my experience with the Bea wines they were a 100% niche, hand-sell wine to only the geekiest of wine geeks and trendy NY Somms. Then the word got out, and slowly (at first) allocations went down and prices went up, then rapidly in both cases. Today, good luck. We get some of the precious Bea prodution, but not much.
But today’s offer is an opportunity to get in early on a wine that by all means should follow the same path. Gaetano and Nicoletta Gargano, the proprietors of Il Censo, were the current generation to run a family estate of 65 hectares situated in Bivona in the south-central zone of Sicily near the town of Palazzo Adriana. The property had been in the family for over 200 years, mainly growing grains and legumes, with a small vineyard planted with Perricone and Malvasia Nera and some very old olive trees.
Gaetano met Giampiero Bea about 25 years ago and was utterly impressed with how the Bea’s farmed and made their wines, and as a result decided to make a serious go of it at Il Censo, employing the methods the Beas were using. Organic, natural, and hands-off methods were the key, and plantings of Nero d’Avola and Malvasia Nera in addition to Cataratto and Perricone began in vineyards perched high on a volcanic outcrop about 650 meters above sea level. Beyond the organic farming, wines are made very much in the Bea method, and aged in the non-interventionist style of Gaetano’s mentor, Giampiero Bea No added yeasts, no temperature stabilization, no fining or filtering, and a minimum of added sulfur dioxide.
The result is an utterly unique wine, loaded with dark fruits, sour black cherry and blackberry, hints of spice, dark efresh turned earth, espresso and mocha, wines that are slightly wild, individual, and energetic, right up to the edge of rustic but not crossing the line. As importer Neal Rosenthal puts it, “It’s a proud sun-drenched southerner, ample and gregarious, but with tons of high-toned spice to balance, as well as a well-mannered flirtation with volatility that remains firmly on the correct side of the fence.” perfectly said. You owe it to yourself to give this a try before it gets overrun by the wine mobs and you either can find it or can’t afford it. Cheers! Chris
IGT Terre Siciliane Rosso – 100% Nero d’Avola
Slopes 650 meters near Palazzo Adriana – Sandy and iron rich clay topsoils, volcanic bedrock
10 year old vines – Manual Harvest – Air dried few days, destem, crush, 2-3 weeks, spontaneous fermentation, On lees until bottled – 2 years in tank