Discovering Marsala is a journey towards a charming and unique universe. Behind each bottle there are centuries of history, endless stories, and alchemic transformations – a time capsule of powerful flavours, deep aromas and much wonder. Cantina Florio is the flagship guardian of this heritage and has reaffirmed its mission to preserve and communicate the intricate complexity of one of Sicily’s most fascinating wines. With the launch of its new range, Cantina Florio is redefining Marsala by bringing its essence – and many faces – to the forefront.
English entrepreneurship as inspiration
Marsala was created at the crossroads of Sicily’s ancestral winemaking traditions and English entrepreneurship. When the British arrived on the western coast of Sicily in the late 18th century, they recognised the potential to produce wines with the nuance and complexity of their much loved Madeiras, Ports and Sherries.
One such British entrepreneur, John Woodhouse, played a particular important role in the creation of Marsala and the consolidation of its reputation and commercial success. It was Woodhouse that, among other goods traded by his company, shipped the first Marsala wine to English soil. The acclaim with which the wines were received meant that this would be the first shipment of many, and that Marsala would evolve well beyond an alternative to Portuguese and Spanish counterparts.
A unique, complex, fascinating Italian wine was thus born.
Marsala – the crafting of a new jewel
British wine merchants turned wine entrepreneurs catalysed the emergence of a vibrant community, made of passionate producers and tradesmen, that would soon elevate Marsala to one of Sicilian wine’s crown jewels.
But Marsala only became truly Italian when, in 1833, Vincenzo Florio (1799-1868) purchased land located between the Woodhouse and Ingham-Whitaker factories. This ‘latecomer’ would soon stand out and wear down the British monopoly – by the turn of the 19th century the craftsmanship and quality of Florio wines had made it a synonym with the best Marsalas.
Following the social and economic turmoil of the early 20th century, Marsala struggled, as did so many other wine regions, with a stalled market. An important transformation was possible however, when Woodhouse, Ingham-Whitaker and Florio merged under the latter’s banner. Continuous investment and research throughout the second half of the century and first years of the new millennium allowed for an evolution that culminates, today, in a true redefinition of Marsala.
One philosophy, many stories to tell
The production of Marsala at Florio is understood as an artistic endeavour that requires as much mindfulness as technical acumen. Following the harvest of the Grillo grapes, the winemakers engage in a process of careful listening – an approach shaped by the constant dialogue between nature and technique, between vineyard and cellar, between potential for evolution and intuition; a daily navigation through the art of tasting, experimenting and reexamining. This traced the path for that critical moment when alcohol and sifone/mistella (or just alcohol for Marsala Vergine) are added to the base wine, marking the true birth of Marsala; the birth of a ‘new creature’ that, after experiencing the sun and the sea, thrives in a different environment shaped by wood, time and the whispering breezes of the cellar.
Cathedral-like in their expanse and magnificence, the Florio cellars have an inner geography of their own, which takes the concept of terroir further than imaginable, making the location of barrels an integral part of Marsala’s development. In the sectors closer to the sea the moderate temperature and ‘brackish’ humidity lead the wines to acquire hints of seaweed and umami flavours. Higher temperature and lower level of humidity in the areas less influenced by the Mediterranean breezes endow Marsala wines with complex and various tertiary aromas.
The singularity of this process is no longer the winemaker’s secret: newly-designed ‘storyteller labels’ trace the path of the wine from grape to cellar, defining a map of its character and evolution. They invite the drinker to become part of this journey whilst delving into the process that preceded that magic moment when the lips touch the precious nectar.
Florio’s new Marsala collection
Florio’s new collection offers a unique overview of the complexity and diversity that defines Marsala – because indeed Marsala is not a style, but an artistic endeavour in which craftsmanship, nature and time conspire to create uniqueness in each barrel.
A comprehensive panorama of the different styles and inner geographies of Marsala Florio, allowing different journeys through time – from the 2017 Marsala Superiore to the very rare Marsala Superiore Riserva of 1994 – and space – exploring the distance that the barrels have had from the sea, the natural element that powerfully influences the complex ageing dynamics of Marsala Florio.
The range includes gentler expressions, produced in larger numbers of bottles (Classic and Premium), as well as extremely rare, limited edition highly-collectible pieces (Exclusive).
- Marsala Vergine Riserva 2009 – VR1609
- Marsala Superiore Secco 2016 – SS1516
- Marsala Superiore Riserva Semisecco 2015 – SR2715
- Marsala Superiore Dolce 2017 – SD1217
- Marsala Superiore Riserva Semisecco 2007 -SR0207
- Marsala Vergine Riserva 2004 – VR0504
- Marsala Superiore Riserva Semisecco 2001 – SR0301
- Marsala Superiore Riserva Secco 2000 – SS0900
- Marsala Vergine Riserva 1998 – VR1898
- Marsala Superiore Riserva Dolce 1994 – SD0294
Vino Florio – A new, fundamental chapter in the Marsala story
Long synonymous with Marsala, Florio now shares another unique window to the history of this unique wine with the release of Vino Florio. A perfect preface to Florio’s Marsala collection, it represents the first expression of the grapes arriving in the cellar – the wine that will one day become a Marsala. It allows wine lovers to taste the base wine – until now only tasted by winemakers and cellar workers – prior to certification and ageing. Bottled unfiltered, this wine is an expression of terroir, variety and vintage; rhythm and harmony as interpreted by the winemaker before it begins the long, beautiful journey towards becoming a Marsala.
Discover more about Cantina Florio
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