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February 1, 2024

Faro-out Sicilian wines

Etna’s little cousin needs some love too

What about Faro?

Just about 40 miles north of the great volcano along the rough and dramatic Strait of Messina where the Tyrrhenian Sea meets the Ionian, Faro reds are based on the same grapes: Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. But Faro wines also have a splash of rare Sicilian spicy native Nocera and sometimes Nero d’Avola.

Also noteworthy is that alcohol levels tend to be slightly lower.

“In the wines of Faro, you taste the sea, the salinity,” Salvatore Geraci tells me over dinner in Messina as we compare vintages from his cult Palari winery in Faro with his vineyard on Etna.  “In the wines of Etna, you taste the minerality — the fumé.”

sicilian redwine on the mediterranean - nerellomascalese

Gianfranco Sabbatino of Le Casematte in a vineyard that looks over the strait of Messina to mainland Italy

Geraci is the Messina architect who helped save the Faro appellation from extinction in the 1990s. And there are 17 others — mostly tiny properties cultivating a mere 400 vineyard acres in Faro.

These are colorful wines with it turns out some colorful producers. Late last fall  I explored the area right down to a public agricultural high school, housed in a 16th-century monastery.

Read about in the latest Robert Camuto Meets… at