When discussing the wines of Mount Etna it is almost impossible to not mention the name Salvo Foti. A native of the city of Catania, Salvo studied oenology and began his career in 1981 as a technical and agrarian advisor to some noted estates in eastern Sicily. He continues that work today for estates such as Gulfi, Benanti and Vini Biondi, all of whose wines are universally recognized as among the best in Sicily.
Several years ago, Salvo’s love of Etna inspired him to begin a consortium called I Vigneri. Today I Vigneri is an association between Salvo Foti, other vine experts and local grape growers who bring their mutual experience working the particular vines of Etna. It is also the name of his own winery, which he now runs with his sons Simone and Andrea.
Many of the vines Salvo uses for his wines are rehabilitated old vines, some over 100 years old, planted at 10,000 plants per hectare in the albarello (gobelet) system. Work is done exclusively by hand or by mule in the vineyards. The grapes are the indigenous Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio with Alicante (Grenache) and a smattering of vines referred to as Francisi, because their variety and provenance are unknown. A newly planted vineyard in 2005 of white varietals at about a 1,200 metres forms the base of Vinujancu, while the rest comes from a vineyard of mainly one hundred year old Alicante (Grenache) vines with some other red and white grape vines at 1,300 metres surrounded by an oak forest, and from which the rosé wine Vinudilice is also made.
Salvo only uses copper/sulfur mix in the vineyards. The grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September until mid-October. Fermentations are carried out in open oak vats, without enzymes or thermal control. There is very little sulfur used on the grapes or must, if any at all. Racking and bottling are done according to the lunar cycle. The wines are bottled with little or no filtration.
This is a breathtaking estate with a mission to make great wines. They are some of the purest expressions of Etna.