“Gorghi Tondi would never have been born without our grandmother’s love for nature,” say Annamaria and Clara. “A love for the vines and for the land that after a century, continues to nourish us, which we are also very passionate about.”
Gorghi Tondi is an enchanting natural reserve and winery in Western Sicily, situated near Mazara del Vallo A peaceful ecological vineyard, Gorghi Tondi is located on a plain between the hills and the sea. With two charismatic, smart and very stylish sisters(Clara and Annamaria Sala) at the helm of the winery, they are dedicated to preserving the land their grandmother loved so dearly.
A unique and exceptional property, Gorghi Tondi winery and vineyards are surrounded by the WWF protected Nature Reserve of Lake Preola and Gorghi Tondi. Visiting the property, I had the opportunity to walk through the nature reserve, through the vineyards, while observing the lakes, the turtles, the birds, and rare flora. We first approached the property from the top of a hillside, giving us a full vista of the lakes and nature reserve below. It was hard to imagine a winery on this WWF protected site. With deep respect and dedication for the land, the vineyards are seamlessly a part of the landscape and are 100% certified organic.
The winery is focused on sustainable winegrowing. Gorghi Tondi produces quality wines from native grape varieties, with an eclectic portfolio of wines that are expertly crafted. The wines range in style from sparkling, rosé, red, white, and sweet.
Annamaria and Clara’s grandmother fell in love with the area for its rich flora and fauna, long before it was part of the WWF protected reserve. Today the Sala’s are dedicated to preserving the land and maintaining the unique winemaking traditions that were in place when their grandmother was making wine. Combining clean energy and organic grape growing practices, they protect the land and the rich biodiversity that surrounds this captivating property. Gorghi Tondi’s wines are pure and authentic to the land and terroir on which they are produced.
Annamaria and Clara give us a tour of the winery and explain the family’s passion for Grillo. Annamaria says, “Not only is Grillo an indigenous variety for Sicily, but Grillo vines have been planted on Gorghi Tondi for generations”. Here the soils, the exposition, and its proximity to the sea all contribute to the best expressions of Grillo.
Grillo can express itself in many styles; some are light, crisp, and fresh and some are round, and full. Grillo is the Chenin Blanc of Sicily, like Chenin Blanc, Grillo is very versatile. You can make it bubbly, natural, still, sweet, and botrytized. It is a variety that is aromatic, with notes of citrus, grapefruit, passionfruit, and wildflowers. Seaside Grillos, like Gorghi Tondi’s have nice acidity and marked notes of salinity.
Grillo is an indigenous variety that is a crossing of Catarratto and Zibibbo. Historically Grillo was used in the production of Marsala wine, but today a variety of styles of Grillo are produced throughout Sicily. Gorghi Tondi makes Grillo their focus. They produce five unique expressions of Grillo that distinctly express their terroir. With a combination of its soils and proximity to the sea, Gorghi Tondi’s Grillo has the capacity to form botrytis(noble rot). Gorghi Tondi is the only winery in the world to make a rare botrytized Grillo.
Gorghi Tondi – The Winery Of Grillo
The Sala sisters are proud to produce Grillo because it is a historical variety native to the area. Grillo is a variety that represents Sicily and its traditions. With 130 hectares of vineyards, they dedicate 35 hectares to Grillo vines. In the small area of Gorghi Tondi, they have big differences in the age of the vines, the soils, the exposition, and the intensity of the winds. These varying plots allow them to produce five unique expressions of Grillo wines. The names of the wines represent the history and traditions of Sicily.
PALMARÈS BRUT SPUMANTE GRILLO 2018 – Palmarès is a Latin word that means “worthy of victory”, as it signifies an excellent and yet another expression of their prized grape Grillo. This spumante has straw yellow hues and beautiful soft bubbles. The aroma is rich with orange, lemon and spring flowers. On the palate, there are notes of pear and almonds. There is nice salinity on the finish that comes from salty ocean breezes that pass through the vineyards.
VIVITIS BIO GRILLO 2018 – This wine is made without any sulfites. The Vivitis Bio is a modern project of Gorghi Tondi, in which the goal is to make wine without any chemicals and preservatives. So naturally, this wine is fresh, clean and crisp. It is a wine that expresses the purity of Grillo with a low environmental impact. It is intensely aromatic with notes of peach, pear, and white flowers. Soft and balanced, this Grillo is the perfect aperitif.
COSTE A PREOLA GRILLO 2018 – Coste A Preola is made from vines that are at the heart of the Gorghi Tondi estate near Lake Preola. The name of the wine is dedicated to Lake Preola and the biodiversity of the vineyards. Coste A Preola exhibits the full aromatic potential of Grillo with mint, pineapple, and peach on the nose. The same notes of fruit follow through on the palate with wonderful acidity and minerality.
KHEIRÈ GRILLO 2018 – Kheirè means “welcome” in Greek. The wine comes from 30-year-old vineyards that are close to the lake. Kheirè is produced from the best and oldest vineyards, making it a CRU wine of Gorghi Tondi. It is a wine with nice aging potential. With a straw yellow color in the glass, there are intense aromas of almond, lemon, and orange. The palate is harmonious and balanced with nice fresh acidity and pronounced salinity on the finish.
GRILLODORO GRILLO 2015 – Grillodoro Is a unique and rare wine. The name is symbolic of the golden sun of Sicily, which is bottled and made available to genuine wine lovers. Grillodoro comes from the oldest vineyards that are situated in front of the Mediterranean sea. It is produced from late harvest grapes that are left to ripen on their vines allowing the grapes to be characterized by the noble mold, Botrytis. This lusciously sweet wine is crystal gold in color, like that of the sun. Its aromas are delicate with notes of orange, jasmine, and honey. It is fresh on the palate with bright acidity and notes of honey and tropical fruits. Grillodoro is an exceptionally rare wine, it is the only botrytized Grillo in Sicily, making it the only one of a kind in the world.
Annamaria and Clara want to produce iconic wines that represent Sicily. Being so close to the sea, you feel a soft cool ocean breeze, making these wines the perfect to pair with Sicilian seafood dishes.
After our Grillo tasting, we had an elaborate lunch with a Sicilian style couscous, which is a blend of Sicilian and African traditions (Mazara has a large Tunisian influence). We had a variety of couscous with lamb, shrimp, and vegetables. Also paired with the wines were local crustaceans that are found offshore in the deep crystal clear waters of Sicily, known as “red shrimp” of Mazara del Vallo. The red shrimp has an exquisite taste with an incredible fragrance. I paired the shrimp with another rare wine that Gorghi Tondi makes – MÜLLER THURGAU EXTRA DRY SPARKLING WINE. Now that is what I call a rare find, never would I have imagined Müller Thurgau thriving in Sicily. The wines of Gorghi Tondi are even more sensational when paired with local Sicilian cuisine.
Gorghi Tondi is a woman-owned winery that is magical in so many ways. The winery is a must-visit for any wine and nature lover traveling to Sicily. It is a special place where wine, culture, nature, history, modernity, and traditions coexist harmoniously. Clara and Annamarie’s passion for tradition, their land, and viticulture radiates in their confidence and is manifested in every bottle of wine they produce.