Count Lucio Tasca and Ms Berenice Axisa, wine development manager at Wands
After meeting Marchesa Anna and her daughter Federica from the famous estate of Tasca d’Almerita, during their brief visit to Malta with their export manager Antonio Virando, I had to look further into Sicilian wines and what makes an island of many contradictions such an alluring wine-growing region. Even though Sicily is the biggest wine-producing region in Italy, throughout the years it has uncovered its potential for creating also top-quality wines - wines as are created at Tasca d’Almerita, our destination for a 3-day unforgettable wine experience.
After a 2-hour drive from Catania, making our way through the beautiful country roads of Sicily, we finally arrived at the Regaleali Estate. To my astonishment, although I had been through every picture of their website, what I felt as soon as I stepped out of the car took me by surprise. Standing just in front of the Regaleali Estate one can admire a stretch of 500 hectares of land, of which 370 are planted with vineyards. The view just seduces your senses, arouses your spirit and immediately gives you a sense of belonging. A belonging to a typical Mediterranean scenery of cultivations; almond trees, wheat and oat fields, new and old olive trees mingled together with alternating colours from the blooming vineyards.
Welcoming us we found the estate manager, Sascha Stancampiano, a typical Sicilian gentleman with a twist of Latin always present in his English pronunciation. Whilst giving us an initial tour around the Regaleali Estate, I could not restrain myself from smelling the perfume of the spontaneously growing rosemary, broom, eucalyptus and other colourful flowers of the season. To complement the beautiful scenery, the estate holds a beauty within itself. The entrance leads to a courtyard enriched by a multitude of colourful trees and plants - a real botanical garden. The rooms are all well-organised and very welcoming.
After refreshing ourselves we had the pleasure of meeting the Tasca brothers, Alberto and Giuseppe Tasca. Alberto Tasca is the younger of the brothers with a flair for both tradition and innovation, two ingredients essential for the success of this winery. On the other hand, Giuseppe gave us more insights into his younger life at the estate and talked passionately about his childhood memories, always revolving around the world of wine.
During the evening we were welcomed for dinner by Conte Lucio himself, the man who started the new era for both this winery and the Sicilian wine business. Dinner, like every meal prepared for us during our 3 day stay, started with panelle, deep-fried wedges made from chick-pea flour. With this antipasto we were served the Almerita Spumante, just the right amount of bubbles to kick off such a delightful dinner. The pasta course was served with the most delicious ripe tomato sauce together with the farmer’s sheep’s milk ricotta, prepared on the day. As secondo, we were treated to the estate’s tender lamb slowly cooked in one of the winery’s finest reds and enriched with the aromatic spices grown in the garden. For dessert the ricotta was sweetened and used to stuff freshly fried cannoli, a heaven of soft creaminess attacking our palate. To complement these traditional dishes we were served the fragrant Nozze D’Oro, the sinuous Cygnus and the elegant Capoforo dessert wine. Rediscovering these wines in such an idyllic setting, surrounded by such prominent wine-lovers and being served such natural dishes, is a moment in life where all our senses were awakened, most of our emotions unforgettable. The next day my wine experience took another turn - it was then that I learnt that much of the theory I studied in books is just a glimpse of what has to be done in practice. My one- to-one discussions with Laura Orsi, the winemaker, and Gianfranco Lombardo, the viticulturist, introduced me to a whole new book on wine, where it is not always easy to find time for the family during harvest, where constant planning is needed to allocate the right team of workers to the right vineyard, at the right time and where the actual contact and relationship with the vine is always important to provide the right grapes at the correct level of ripeness to produce the best Nero d’Avola wine.
Apart from the vineyard experience, what made our stay more interesting was the visit to the cooking school which is run by Marchesa Anna Tasca Lanza, Conte Lucio’s sister. Everyone who sets foot into the Casa Vecchia kitchen and listens to the passion with which the Marchesa delivers her Sicilian recipes falls in love with the place.
From this three-day wine experience, I have not only learnt but experienced firsthand the whole story and tradition behind a glass of Tasca d’Almerita wine; an experience you can look forward to every time you open a bottle of wine from this fabulous estate.
Exclusively imported by Wands.