Menfi – The idea of making a wine that genuinely expresses one of the noblest varieties of Sicily sprang in 2004. Since then, Cartagho has been one of the great classics of Mandrarossa, produced from the best selection of Nero d’Avola grapes. Right from the very first vintage, this wine revealed its remarkable character: 100% Sicilian, decisive, intense and enveloping. Its birth has always marked an important chapter in the history of the winery and the agricultural community of Menfi: Cartagho won the brand’s first ever Tre Bicchieri award, rewarded to the 2009 and 2006 vintages.
As in most wine stories, the tale becomes a reality that is deeply rooted in the land. In this case, we are between 200-350 m asl, along the south-western coast of Sicily. Three selected vineyards, covering an area of about 6 hectares, are the cradle of Nero d’Avola grapes that turn into Cartagho. The very name is an ode to the island’s history and traditions, but this is a wine that looks towards the future, thanks to its potential for aging. And just like a tale worthy of this name, we also find a love story: between the vignerons of Menfi and their land teeming with bountiful fruits.
In order to produce Cartagho, a community within the community was created: a group of 4 winegrowers who share Mandrarossa’s vision and follow a particular agronomic protocol that aims to protect an equally singular ecosystem, which yields extraordinary grapes.
The vineyards that bring this iconic wine to life stand out for their calcareous-clayey soils that contain a sandy substrate. These elements endow the wine with structure as well as elegance and complexity. Another distinctive trait resides within the location: enjoying a south-southwest exposure, the vineyards of Cartagho are caressed by both the warm Sirocco winds and the cool breeze from the vast Magaggiaro woods. The former comes from the sea in May, promoting budding as well as the creation of an environment that prevents the development of fungi; the latter is a “green lung” that facilitates temperature variation.
This exceptional viticultural oasis is attentively cared for in order to keep these pedoclimatic characteristics intact and promote the health of the vines, which are 20 years old on average.
Vineyard operations promptly begin with green manuring, followed by temporary grassing with field beans and other legumes. These plants provide the soil with nitrogen and attract different insects that positively contribute to the vineyards’ ecosystem. Tillage is also carried out on a yearly basis to aerate the soil and promote the development of root systems and hypogeal organisms. During winter, conservative pruning is carried out: lessening cuts and the plants’ diameter avoids additional stress on the plants and enhances longevity. Consistent attention to the vineyards limits the use of products such as herbicides or fungal treatments, reserving them only for exceptional instances. Low-yielding Nero d’Avola clones were planted to produce small quantities of high-quality fruits; careful management of the greenery and bud selection are performed during spring.
Rain in autumn and winter ensured optimal water supply for the plants. The averagely lower temperatures registered in spring and the rain that fell during flowering reduced the number of berries on the bunches and delayed harvest by 10 days.
The cool summer, with its remarkable diurnal temperature variation, helped the plants to grow healthily and avoided water stress.
We harvested a lesser number of grapes that were endowed with remarkable quality. The vineyards underwent exceptional development: the long period of maturation resulted in an excellent balance between sugar and acidity as well as an exquisite aromatic profile.
Cartagho 2019 stands out for its delicate nature as well as the rich and distinctly varietal aromas.In the cellar, the grapes underwent maceration and fermentation for 8/10 days at a temperature between 22-25°C. The wine then aged for 12 months in French oak barriques, followed by another 4 months in the bottle.
Cartagho 2019 unveils intense aromas of wild blackberries and marasca cherry; in the mouth, surprising hints of date and Mediterranean notes of maritime pine, spices and leather. Distinguished by a delicate yet profound sip, Mandrarossa Cartagho is a pleasant wine that brings out an authentic Sicilian elegance. Perfect with aged cheese as well as braised and roasted red meat.