These sportwomen date back to the third or fourth century. These extraordinarily preserved mosaics are located in an outstanding place, the Roman Villa del Casale, next to Piazza Armerina, in south-central Sicily.
A few kilometers further, we Filippo Rizzo is more contemporary. Previously restaurant manager in Belgium, he is now winemaker. Digression: how many Sicilian winemakers lurk in unlikely corners and excessive panorama... Looking for unsuspected landscapes? Search winemakers who work well.
The man leading Lamoresca and his wife put as much love in their wines as mosaic artists put in their work. And you can feel it. I spent almost 24 hours at home, talking, drinking, eating, walking in this remote place facing San Michele di Ganzaria. Tourism in Sicily follows the route of highways along the three seaboards. While no one comes here in the inland. Except natural wine geeks.
"My wines are normal: I make southern wines" Filippo insists gasping on the alleged mode of the natural wine that would look for freshness first. Here there can be no freshness. Yeah, that's easily said, especially compared with the overwhelming majority of the Sicilian white. Let me explain.
Since he does not behave like everyone else, Filippo has planted vermentino. No Sicilian white grape native could find favor in his eyes. He's crazy after drinking Corsica Antoine Arena's and Tuscany Massa Vecchia's wines. Hence the common denominator, the Vermentino grape.
Let's look at the 2014. After 2days maceration on skins, aging in concrete. "My vin de garde is the white wine because reds have too low acidity." A little more than 2,000 bottles are produced every year ; the treasure hunt is open.
We tasted the 2014 open for 3 days and we tasted the 2014 open for 3 seconds. Indeed, there is acidity and I find them still very fresh compared to what is happening elsewhere in Sicily. We are especially impressed by the fantastic flavors of citrus (obviously, it's ... vermentino) and the drinkability coupled with class. Rather difficult to describe.
The red are not slouch. The nerocapitano, colloquial name of frappato, grows on clay away from the beautiful soils of Vittoria : it is more rustic and more spirity. And so ? The mascalisi is a trading wine (he buys nerello mascalese grapes from Etna, the Sicilian Burgundy) : tannic and balanced. The Lamoresca rosso is an blend which changes every year: rather it is a wine that calls for winter red meat. And there we were in July.
Comes a fellow diners. The debate quickly passes on the tomato sauce. Difficult to follow in Sicilian, but we understand that we don't have to laugh at all. There is agreement on this : tomatoes must be ripe and peeled. Add oil, basil before cooking hot fire. We will not know much more...
Filippo did a bit of tomato sauce for friends. We feel that he would like to develop this activity, his wife frowns, implying that he already has enough work.
The same evening we enjoy a 100% Lamoresca dinner: Lamoresca tomatoes, Lamoresca olive oil, Lamoresca wine. Need something else? A photo ? You had to be there.
The next morning, the ride along the property between carroubiers, fig, pomegranate, almond ... and even vines and olive trees.
The olive is omnipresent. This is another great production of Lamoresca. The oil is exceptionnal : slightly oily with a well spiced mouth ; it's Sicilian product for sure ! "I need to make wine for business but if I could, I would make only oil". As for grapes, no chemical input disturbs the normal vegetative cycle. "In our culture we do not work on the olives". Before bitching about those who moan about the price: "They say that my olive oil is expensive, but come to work with me and see ... I do not earn anything on the olive oil".
The family house is built on a hill on which the area is spread. Top of the sand, then clay. There is still some empty space for upcoming grenaches. Or something else, we'll see. We also notice the grass not too high to prevent the spread of fires.
"Between the rows of wild oregano, bay leaf, mint: I leave them to frappato and herbs let their taste to grapes."
Under the house, an ultra clean cellar. "The majority of our work is to clean." Filippo has big day: he hired to 5 am until noon, then it's too hot to work outdoors. Since this remote corner of Sicily, he must now sell its wines. If I'm not mistaken and based on supply, his wines and oils are available in Paris at RAP and La Robe et le Palais.