Few people in Italy can claim to know the world of wine as thoroughly and from as many angles as Federico Graziani who, before becoming a top-class winemaker, was a sommelier, consultant and much more.
Federico made his debut so young he could almost be considered a child prodigy, enrolling in his first sommelier course at the age of fifteen (in 1990) and winning the Italian Association of Sommeliers’ ‘Best Italian Sommelier’ award eight years later. This recognition led to him immediately working with the most important chefs in the country, providing advice to important wineries and writing several books. He also continued to study and in 2006 obtained a degree in Viticulture and Oenology. Guided by his passion for wine, his path naturally led him to becoming a winemaker, where he brought together all he had learned over the years to bring to life his own personal vision of what a vineyard and cellar should be.
Having fallen in love long before with the wild slopes of Mount Etna – which boasts one of the oldest winemaking traditions in Europe, with vines rich in history, such as Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio or Carricante and Minnella – Graziani decided to produce his wine in Passopisciaro, in the Contrada Feudo di Mezzo.
The plots are between 600 and 1200 metres above sea level on the north and north-west slopes, in an ecosystem distinguished by its climatic variability and contrasting landscapes.
In the vineyard, he follows the traditional model of sapling breeding used in the area because it provides more space for the roots, and better irradiation and ventilation, and favours manual processing and harvesting. To keep it in total harmony with nature, pesticides and systemic treatments have been banned and only copper and sulphur are used. Salvo Foti and Maurizio Pagano manage the vineyards and bring the traditions of the Maestranza dei Vigneri – the first, historic association of Etna winemakers – into the present.
The non-invasive approach used in the vineyard is also found in the cellar, where only indigenous yeasts are used for fermentation and small, wooden barrels – never new ones – are used for ageing.