2016 Fattorie Romeo del Castello Vigo Etna Rosso, Mount Etna, Sicily – WA96

2016 Fattorie Romeo del Castello Vigo Etna Rosso, Mount Etna, Sicily – WA96



“Vigo” is only produced in the finest vintages by Chiara Vigo and her husband Gianluca Torrisi.  In 2007, Chiara returned to the family’s estate near Randazzo on the northern face of Etna after earning a Phd in art and communications. With encouragement and hand holding from Salvo Foti, the Etna’s leading agronomist and oenologist, Chiara decided to make her own wine with a focus on tradition and a natural approach.

Vigo is the original wine at Romeo del Castello, but now considered the riserva wine. It is meant to pay homage to her father who worked and died on the property.  Earlier vintages; 2007, 2008, 2012, and 2013 outlined and mapped the estate’s parcels.  We were fortunate to secure and still have a few bottles in our private cellar of the 2014 vintage which begins to pay recognition to ancestors and family members.

The 2014 label  hosts Chiara’s great grandfather Luigi Romeo del Castello, and this new 2016 Vigo features his wife Maria Vagliasindi.

Chiara Vigo and Gianluca Torrisi are charged with the arduous task of “managing” one of the most extreme and violent pieces of raw terroir found anywhere in Italian wine.  Devotees may recall Fattorie Romeo del Castello lost over 20 hectares of vineyard to the horrific and quick-moving lava flow of 1981.  A blackened wall of black volcanic stone cuts through the property and reminds one of our inability to control nature’s unforgiving destructive power.  All of the Vigo wines are survivors of Mount Etna’s tenacious and relentless power!

When we visited the Randazzo area in April of 2019 we stayed just down the road from Fattorie Romeo del Castello and observed the gigantic and omnipotent lava flow into the property when we ran by on our morning runs.  One must reckon with the notion that all could be lost again in another eruption.  Just this last May – 2021, “Idda” (“She”) as the locals call her, erupted to spew multiple massive lava flows again, but this time on the southern slopes.

Now, so many decades after the 1981 eruption, grapevine shoots and tendrils have broken through the black rock. It’s an incredible site to see, and it’s an enduring symbol of nature’s sheer power and the grapevine’s determination to survive.  Chiara’s organic estate is located 700 meters above sea level at the intersection of three national parks: the Parco dell’Etna, the Parco dei Nebrodi and the Parco Fluviale dell’Alcantara.  In 2020, the estate added another new parcel of Nerello Mascalese, but it is my understanding there will not be a 2020 Vigo produced.

So more about Vigo!  All certified organic farming on volcanic stone and sand.  Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from the Allegracore contrada, including 100+ year old vines on own root stock.  5000 L stainless tank fermentation for 12 days, then moved for malolactic and aged in 225 L barrique for a minimum of 12 months  Minimal amount of SO2 at bottling.  Unfined and unfiltered. Late release.

“The top wine from Fattorie Romeo del Castello is its 2016 Etna Rosso Vigo, and this bottle is held back for two more years of aging before its commercial release. There is a lot of fluid complexity and depth here, and new sides of the wine come into view with each swirl of the glass. The organic wine is fresh and tonic with interchanging  aromas of wild rose, blue flower, cassis and dried herb. The mineral nuance and the wine’s dryness are downplayed in the 2016 vintage. Instead, it offers substantial fruit weight and extra volume that builds the fruity, or more buoyant, aromatic profile of this terrific red. If this offering of 3,400 bottles were a stock, any good analyst would put it down as a strong buy.  Drink 2022-2038.” – 96 points – Wine Advocate, Monica Larner (October 29th, 2021)

Photographs taken by Eric Stumpf – April 2019.



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