Feudo Disisa:wines, history and style

Anna Caidan meets Sal Romano, Export Director for Feudo Disisa
2018-04-03
Wine story

What is the history of Feudo Disisa?

‘Yes! Feudo Disisa is an ancient Arabic cultural estate. The name Disisa derives from Aziz which means splendid. It is a name that well describes the landscape. In the year 1000, Sicily was an Arabic emirate for 150 years, Feudo Disisa today is 400 hectares or approximately 1100/1200 acres. On the property there is still an Arabic tower as testimony to that history, about 1000 years old. In the 12th century, King William II of Normandy gave the estate to the church, the Archbishop of Monnreale. Feudo Disisa was 900 hectares until the 1950s and then has been diminished to 400 hectares, after a reform that happened in the 1950’s. Feudo Disisa has been in the Di Lorenzo family for 200 years. The Di Lorenzos were an aristocratic family from Sicily brought to Sicily from England. In the early 1920s, Azienda Agricola was formed by Mario Di Lorenzo, and at that time the winery was selling bulk wines to the French and to the north of Italy. Then in the 1970s/1980s, the current generation, managed by Nato Di Lorenzo and his wife Paola, commercialised olive oil and grape production, selling to local producers. In 2000, planning permission was given for a new winery to be constructed. And now with the second wine maker, and over the last 6/7 years there is a bigger appreciation for the wine.

I have known the Di Lorenzo family for around 20 years since being in Sicily, being of Italian and Canadian decent, and have been working with them to help promote their wines and developing quality import distribution network. We are working to produce premium wines from our own cultivated grapes, by manual selection and with varieties that are indigenous to Monreale, which are characterised by altitude, 250-500 meters above sea level. This is very important, because the style is reflected

by the freshness and the expertise of the wine makers and the owners that are able to express with elegance and harmony, the character and magic of the area and of the estate. The grapes that we produce are Cattaratto, Inzolia, indigenous to Monreale, Grillo from south west of Sicily. These all work really well at our altitudes, we get incredible feedback from all the trade and people today here in London. Other grape varieties we do are Chardonnay, which recently have received accolades as among some of the top-quality chardonnays in Italy. And in the reds, we produce Nero d’Avola and Perricone. Also we have a nice production of Syrah, which in our area expresses very well.’

What is your favourite step in the wine making process?

‘In the process, I like the tasting of the wines, just before they have been bottled and after! The harvest is a very particular and exciting period of the year, because of course you have all the work that goes on, selecting the grapes manually. First the whites, we have the chardonnay

and the Grillo that is harvested earlier, towards the last week in August to the first week in September. For the reds, we have the Syrah which is picked earlier than the Nero d’Avola, and the Perricone which is picked last. The harvest is really exciting because of the altitude and the climate. Last year we had to harvest almost a week earlier on all the grapes, so to maintain the right aspects of acidity and balance. It was a really intense moment, but it was exciting, because you work with anticipation on what the wines would be like, but we’ve tasted them, and we think that they are good. It will be interesting to taste them a year from now and be able to comment what the 2017 vintage is like.’

What is the story behind the label?

‘It is a noble family crest from the Feudo Disisa family and it dates back to about the early 1800s.’

When would you say is the best moment to taste Disisa wines?

‘The best moment is when you’re with friends, it’s a very nice social drink, and there is not one occasion where friends haven’t stopped and expressed their appreciation of the wine, and that gives us a lot of pleasure!’

What food pairs best with your wines?

‘The reds, for example a Nero d’Avola 2015, that we just tasted, which does 6 months in 2-year-old French oak, would pair well with any type of meat. Steak is good, you could also enjoy it with a tuna steak. Whereas the Vuaria, which is a more important wine, it does a year and a half in new French oak and it’s a 2012/2013, then you would probably want to have more roasts or some more particular meat dishes. But Nero d’Avola is very versatile also to have with some seasoned cheese and various types of meat.’

How would you describe the Sicilian way of life?

‘The Sicilian way of life I would describe it as traditional, but also keen to make the best of technologies, if we are talking about making the wine, for putting together the expertise and the best technology available and hard work, and definitely a lot of passion, and pride in making the wines.’

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