Arriving in the early afternoon of a Saturday at the end of May at Agrirelais Baglio di Pianetto it means a discovering a corner of Sicily that enchants you with the beauty of its spring colors. Just 25 kilometers from Palermo, surrounded by 88 hectares of vineyards, at an altitude of 650 m a.s.l., the Baglio, nestled in the hills of Santa Cristina Gela, looks respectful of the countryside that embraces it and the Sicilian traditions that give it shape. The exterior of the splendid residence, with the strawberry-colored dome and the battlements crowning its perimeter, recalls the Arab-Norman style while the harmony of sounds and colors enhances the natural quietness of the surrounding hills of Piana degli Albanesi making the structure an excellent “buen retiro” for lovers of relaxation.
The reception service seems to be professionally designed to guide you in a gradual discovery of the large interior spaces full of furniture and interesting details; you will be struck by the piano in the large living room, the many sofas that invite you to read, the spiral staircase leading to the room “Agnus” which takes its name of an intense red wine. A Superior room, with a private balcony, which does not disappoint: the expectations: the environment is large, classic in the furniture and very well equipped, the bathroom is really huge. Moreover, two things, conquer the heart: the view of the hills and the vineyards that you can enjoiy from the bed (I never closed the curtains!) and the welcome bottle “Ramione” of 2012 that invites to take a stroll through the vineyards, despite a light drizzle. With umbrella and camera, the exploration of the Pianetto estate is pleasant and interesting. Note that the soil of Ficiligno tends to clayey, red clay, rich in minerals of siliceous origin, that most of the 88 hectares of vineyards are in production while others have recently been planted. The, Guyot and spurred cordon vines of Insolia, Cataratto, Grillo, Viognier, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon enjoy the temperature range between day and night, harsh winters and typically hilly windy summers that make their aromatic properties unique. This i show we begin to understand the choice of Count Paolo Marzotto, a wine lover, to purchase this precious microcosm in order to realize his project to combine the Sicilian terroir with the tradition of the French Chateaux, and there is a growing expectation for tomorrow’s day and for the event scheduled by Cantine Aperte that will introduce the company and its production philosophy, as well as taste the wineso of Baglio di Pianetto also produced at Tenuta Baroni in the townof Noto that are Nero d’Avola, Frappato, Syrah and Moscato di Noto as tradition and land want. Meanwhile, for dinner, thanks to the advice of Mariella and Claudia, to the Caponata di melanzane, the Busiate alla Pianetto and to the Filetto di vitello al Ramione, it is proposed to pair “Natyr”, a Petit Verdot with long spontaneous maceration with native yeasts, which with its hints of red fruits and its warm ruby color enhances the delicious dishes and makes the dinner another nice moment to remember. I forgot a gem: the Sicilian cannolo from Piana degli Albanesi and the RA’IS muscatel essence … unforgettable! The Cantine Aperte event is a surprise, despite the unfavorable weather conditions, everything takes place neatly inside the cellar enjoying huge spaces. Numerous participants who, with guided tours, food and wine tastings, music and dances, enjoy a day in the cellar that welcomes them with professionalism and human warmth. Thanks to Alessandro Scordato, an excellent mentor, I discover that the Marzotto family invested in Sicily about 21 years ago, buying the Baglio from Barone Ramione, in which the baronial family lived, and the Pianetto estate, whose grapes were given to other companies. With the Marzotto family the production begins, then the construction of the cellar to make wine on site and also the restructuring of the Baglio in a tourist accommodation strucuture. Paolo Marzotto also purchased a second production facility in the territory of Noto, the Tenuta Baroni, a flat area different from the Pianetto hills in term of terroir and climatic conditions. Two wineries, different productions, all certified since 2016 in organic.
The Pianetto winery, which I am fortunate enough to visit, is developed vertically on four floors, exploits the force of gravity by fall and in it everything is designed to respect the integrity of the raw material. In the barrel room, for example, everything is geometrically ordered; the barrels edged with red, are arranged in order of size and placed in the best conditions to facilitate the osmotic processes necessary for the evolution of the wine. The cooperage, surrounded by the mountain, has been designed in such a way as to create an air corridor necessary to mantain a constant humidity of 70% to avoid the formation of mould and to favour all the conditions necessary to protect the Lies and Slavonian oak barrels and tonneaux and above all to favour the porosity that gives a natural and particular imprint to the wines of Baglio di Pianetto. It is clear from Alessandro’s words that the company’s DNA is French both for the imprint given to the wines and for the philosophy and production processes that allow it to be expressed. It is also evident the growth of the company that produces 650,000 bottles a year, with a domestic market of 55 percent and a lively expansion in the foreign market. On the day of tasting, the organic monovarietals (Insolia, Cataratto, Grillo, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Viognier, Nero d’ Avola and Frappato), the classics (Ficiligno, Timeo, Ramione, Shymer, Syraco), the reserves (Harpsichords, RA’ IS essence, Viafrancia red and white) and the Monreale DOC Murriali were all appreciated. Personally I combined the organic white Viafrancia, that I loved in a particular way for the uniqueness in which its complexity is linked to finesse creating harmony, with bread, panelle and spleen, with sfincione and dairy products of the Piana degli Albanesi, among a lot of Sicily and human Sicilianity, also expressed by the words of the palermitan actor Salvo Piparo. At the end of the experience at Baglio di Pianetto and of the day at Cantine Aperte 2019, I share Alessandro’s words of greeting, inviting everyone to visit the wineries, to discover them, to get to know them, as a precious opportunity for the growth of the culture of wine and the enhancement of Sicily’s wine.