A drink with… Michele Faro

Michele Faro

‘In 2005 we were a handful of producers on Etna. We had a vision and took a risk in investing in a region that was completely unknown at the time. Everything was a challenge for us, from understanding how to work the vineyards on the volcano to finding workers, and selling the wines was a real effort because no one knew who we were. It was not easy, but we had so much passion that we didn’t feel tired of all the work it required.

‘Pietradolce’s first vintage was 2007 and we made 3,600 bottles of our wine Archineri. It was very hard selling the wines. Nobody knew Etna and the international palates preferred structured wines, with a lot of colour and fruit – the opposite of the elegant wines from our black volcanic soil and high altitudes. Luckily that has changed since then.

‘In 2010 the market turned, and Etna started to get attention from both the media and the trade and everything was much easier – but with success there is also risk, and today the situation is critical for the future of Etna’s reputation. There is a gold rush going on with new wineries popping up. We have gone from being around 10 wineries at the beginning of the 2000s to more than 200 today.

‘There is a big difference in quality among these newer wineries, and the problem is that every bottle bears the name Etna. We should never allow low-quality wines to bear the name Etna on the label – it is against everyone’s interest.

‘The difference in style, quality, and price of the wines from Etna is a huge risk for the future and it makes me very upset. I am worried about what this could mean for Etna’s reputation if we are not careful. We need to have a vision on a long-term basis otherwise it is like sailing without a compass.

‘The solution to today’s situation is stricter controls and tougher rules from the consorzio of the Etna DOC, which has applied to become Sicily’s next DOCG, the second one in Sicily after Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOC. It is up to all of us producers to agree on a common vision for the future.

‘Another important step to keep the style and quality of our wines is to focus even more on our unique terroir. Today you can’t plant any new vineyards in the Etna DOC region and that is a good thing because we need to concentrate on what we have and not enlarge the region. I would concentrate on our 142 contradas, smaller pieces of land whose names can be written on the labels. I would create MGAs or UGAs (smaller, defined geographical units) like in Barolo or Barbaresco, making it possible to narrow down the exact site on a label.

‘Making wines from smaller units of land would show signs of being serious and terroir focused. Our indigenous varieties like Nerello Mascalese and Carricante would be able express the terroir in the most nuanced way. I think the best wines from Etna show that this is possible.

‘We need to spread the message about our unique terroir, to consumers and the trade, even more than we do today. Our wine region is something special; we are on an active volcano, with black volcanic soil and with some of the highest vineyards in Europe, reaching 1,500 meters above sea level, and with unique indigenous grape varieties. We have to be careful with this fantastic heritage and not be governed by commercial short-termism.’

Related articles

A drink with… Rex Pickett

A drink with… Jane Lopes & Jonathan Ross MS

A drink with… Idris Elba

The post A drink with… Michele Faro appeared first on Decanter.

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/a-drink-with-michele-faro-525362/