Faro, or “lighthouse”, is a little DOC, almost the smallest in Italy, over looking the Straits of Messina. Archaeological finds show evidence of wine production in the area since the fourteenth century BC. With just above 6 hectares (15 acres) in the DOC area, the production is clearly tiny. Planted with ancient indigenous grapes with evocative names such as: nerello, cappuccio, nocera tignolino palumba, core and acitana, galatena, calabrese, and others; all grapes that make up the Faro DOC.
Salvatore Geraci makes one of the icon wines of southern Italy: Faro Palari. An architect by training, this charismatic Sicilian from Messina approaches every detail with extreme precision, from the health of each of his vines to the ambitious restoration of his family manor into a modern winery and tasting room. The magic of his wine, however, is his vineyard. Running late after a long day of appointments, I had the chance to visit his property after nightfall – a fact for which Salvatore has probably not forgiven me. Despite the blackness around us, I cannot exaggerate the beauty of this place. Salvatore’s vineyards (and much of the Faro appellation) remain perched on impossibly steep terraces that look over the Straits of Messina straight into Reggio di Calabria and mainland Italy. We reached his vineyard by Jeep, traveling up a dirt path more appropriate for mountain sheep than motorized vehicle. Using his cell phone to cast an eerie blue light, Salvatore shows me the thick, knotted trunks of his ancient head-pruned vines. The lights of the Italian mainland shimmer in the near distance and muffled horns can be heard from the busy maritime traffic that channels through the Straits. Since the time of the ancients, this thin watery passage – with its dangerous currents and riptides – has sparked both fascination and fear. The legend of the Fata Morgana, a mysterious mirage said to disorient even the most experienced seamen, is born here. The rocky northern corner of Sicily hovers so close to the southern tip of Calabria creating unpredictable wind tunnels and suction. Nothing is subtle about these surroundings. Everything is extreme.
“The 2008 vintage in the Straits of Messina is similar to 2005 in terms of its mild climate and balanced weather. A good amount of rain and cool night temperatures during harvest set the conditions for bright aromatic intensity. This wine shows a beautiful quality of fruit with small red berries and a solid dose of ripe peach. Balsam herbs and dried rosemary appear on the fringe. As the wine evolves in the glass, it begins to show more leather and black licorice. One of the most noticeable aspects of this wine is its balanced acidity. The blend is 50% Nerello Mascalese, 20% Nerello Cappuccio, 20% Nocera and 10% other indigenous grapes. Drink 2016-2032. – 94 points, Wine Advocate, Monica Larner
“From a very good vintage in Sicilian winemaking, the 2010 Faro Palari is an elegant and classic expression. This wine is more floral than the other vintages I’ve tasted and it shows more exotic flavors of Indian spice, cardamom and lightly crushed clove. There’s a slightly soapy aroma of lavender flower or rose potpourri. The wine most definitely underlines that Salvatore Geraci trademark signature. It’s a wine of light lines and deep finesse with delicate berry aromas that are intertwined with spice, dried flowers and licorice. The 2010 vintage taste very young to me, and should probably age another year or two in the bottle before you pop the cork. The bouquet is still a bit shut down. But the intensity and the inner harmony of the wine bode well for its future aging potential. 2018-2030.” – 93 points, Monica Larner – Wine Advocate (December 2015)