Region: Alcamo, Sicily
Material: 100% Nero d' Avola
Size: 750ml bottle
Criante is a certified organic polyculture farm in Alcamo, Sicily. This is the western part of the island, in the province of Trapani, the dead-center of the Mediterranean Sea, a bit closer to Tunisia than to mainland Italia.
The Adragna family are the third generation to farm this land, though they have much deeper roots in Alcamo. Davide Adragna and his wife, Irene Figlia, are the face of the estate. 2019 was their first harvest under the moniker Criante, which incorporates all their farming activities.
Their vineyards are divided between the towns of Alcamo (Contrada Modica—slightly more coastal, more sand in topsoil) and neighboring Calatafimi-Segesta (Contrada Valle—slightly more inland, more clay in topsoil). Though both areas fall within the confines of the Alcamo DOC, they prefer to use IGP Terre Siciliane or DOC Sicilia, as the parameters for Alcamo DOC are geared to fairly conventional wine. The paradox is that, to achieve Alcamo “typicity,” Criante would be forced to fine, filter, or otherwise add various enological products to their wine. They, and other Alcamo producers, have petitioned for more freedom.
West Sicily is a warm, semi-arid zone. It’s subject to the scirocco, an intensely hot wind coming off the Sahara, which can reach hurricane speeds. And yet, native varieties like Catarratto (Sicily’s most-planted grape and Italy’s third-most) have adapted to this climate over millennia, seemingly dealing with climate change better than many famous grapes of Central and North Italy. I’d like to think of Criante as Catarratto “specialists,” as they smartly tame its notorious yields and make three distinct wines from it, from each of the biotypes—Extralucido, Lucido, and Comune. The expressiveness and freshness are remarkable.