‘We’re not in the south of Italy - we’re in the north of Africa’. It's a remarkable reminder from Corrado, the winemaker at Regaleali, of Sicily's unique geographical location, less than 100 miles away from Tunisia. Indeed even the name Regaleali comes from Arabic 'rahal ali' or 'the house of Ali'.
Right in the centre of Sicily, far from the sea, Regaleali reaches up to 900m above sea level, a location that also helps to explain the very special terroir - or even terroirs. 549 hectares feature 13 different soils, including 382 hectares of vineyards. They produce 50 varietals of grapes - 22 for wines, the rest experimentation for university researchers.
The beautiful setting features Instagram-worth 19th century buildings covered in purple bougainvillea, vegetable gardens and orchards, where bees, butterflies and swifts confirm the remarkable biodiversity.
Rosso del Conte (Nero d’Avola (52%), Perricone (48%) was the fìrst single vineyard wine in Sicily. It was first created in 1970 by Count Giuseppe, initially aged in chestnut barrels, then Slavonic rover barrels before French barriques. The winner of countless awards since inception, it remains a remarkable expression of a remarkable producer. Other gems include Nozze d'oro, Vigna San Francesco - Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay - and Almerita Brut.
An important part of the Tasca business is the V.I.V.A. Sustainable Wine programme which features four indicators: air, water, vineyard, terroir - that allow winemakers to measure impact on the environment and consequently support strategies to reduce emissions. There's even a QR-code on the label of every bottle to help consumers learn more.
Don't forget the cooking school founded by famed food writer Anna Tasca Lanza, now run by her daughter Fabrizia Lanza. She leads 'experiential food education' programmes on farming, sustainability and culture as well as incredible dishes. At one lunch, they included involtini of eggplant with ricotta, parmesan, tomato and oregano. Then fish with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning, a salmoriglio. Finally a lemon curd made with lemons from trees about 30 feet away. Regaleali is that sort of place.