…spontaneously fermenting

A tasting note: 2008 Porta del Vento Saharay

Azienda Agricola Marco Sferlazzo
Contrada Valdibella
90043 Camporeale, Sicilia

Certified organic Catarratto grapes grown with the help of biodynamic preparations at an altitude of about 600 meters above sea level. Grapes are harvested by hand and brought immediately to the winery where they are gently crushed and left to ferment spontaneously. The skins are left to macerate with the juices for about 30 days in open oak vats without temperature control and without the addition of sulfur. Punching down the cap is done by hand 3 times a day, followed by a soft pressing in a manual press.  Maturation in 2500 litter botti (oak barrels) for just under a year. Bottled without filtration and without the addition of sulfur, of course.

Date tasted (numerous times, but for this note):  Sunday September 11th, 2011 9:00pm

Appearance: Dark orange-amber with brownish reflexes (which increase with time in the glass). Shows a bit more age than the 3 years would indicate.

Nose:  spices, apricots, ginger, leafy, molasses and hints of volatility give this wine an interesting edge which keeps  you sniffing it for minutes and minutes before tasting it. Like many skin-macerated whites, this wine hints of sweetness which could lead the unsuspecting to expect a sweet wine on the palate. The last sniffs reminded me of Vin Santo (a sweet wine from Toscana made from dried grapes)

Palate:  I have tasted many skin-macerated whites and knew what to expect: a fruity, yet bone-dry wine. What I didn’t expect (and always surprises me with this wine) is the tannic structure. Owing to the long skin-contact and 10-12 months in oak barrels, this wine packs a tannic punch making it a perfect match for fatty foods such as Fois Gras, duck and some creamy cheeses.  I have also had success serving this with savory dishes like mushroom soup. Very spicy (cardomom, cinammon and ginger) with the usual yellow fruits like apricots and peaches. A semi-long and dry finish round out the wine nicely.

I like the wines of Porta del Vento and have tasted almost the entire product line. The prices are fair as well.  The Saharay I especially like because of it’s masculinity, a trait I don’t often find in skin-macerated whites making this wine more interesting to me. But I also have to point out a negative characteristic of the Porta del Vento wines I have tasted.  As far as I know, all the wines spend some time in oak and leave the mouth with this rather disturbing dryness. A dryness that can be attributed not only to the fruit, but to the oak.  Oak is certainly not dominant in their wines, in fact I would say that the oak is used judicially (it doesn’t “flavor” the wine).   I just prefer to have no oak in my wines letting the fruit shine through without any interruption, especially in wines that have such fresh fruit character, like the wines of Porta del Vento.  The other complaint I have is that these wines should be drunk up the night you open the bottle. Two or three days open and I find that the wines oxidize.

Back label detail - click on photo to enlarge

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Camporeale, Italy, natural wine (100% living wine), orange wine, Sicilia

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6 Responses

  1. Great posting! Like a well developing wine, your writing style continues to improve and I enjoy that, easy and quick reading, informative, and of course also makes me want to taste this! Great also to get your matching food suggestions; and also that unlike many other natural wines, this one isn’t one that can be left open a few weeks with little change. But this wine sounds so good you wouldn’t want to leave any left in the bottle anyway!

  2. vinosseur says:

    Thanks for the complement. Yes, I didn’t mention that many of the natural wines I work with can stay open even for a week or more. This one is not typical, but like you said, the wine disappeared in about 30 minutes 🙂

  3. Hi! I was also surprised by your comment that the wine should be drunk soon after opening it. Normally I find it very interesting to drink orange wines over a week. Just had four different wines from Paraschos in the fridge and they where best on the third and fourth day.

  4. vinosseur says:


    Yes, I normally like to let the “orange” wines “breathe” for a few days, but it’s not the case with the Saharay.

    Now the wines of Paraschos, on the other hand, I find are very difficult to approach the first 2 or 3 days, so I agree with you. Evangelos’ wines can benefit from even one week of being opened and forgotten about. They are often very tight and serious without much fruit character when opened. But, on the 3rd day they really start to “show-off” their fruit!


  5. Peter pann says:

    I second your thoughts, also the drynessI wonder what do you think of the ‘basic’ line ie. normal Cataratto………

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Vinosseur is the company name of sommelier Joseph R. Di Blasi. is his web page where he writes about wine, food, restaurants and other gastronomic experiences.

Joseph has a special place in his heart for quality wines from the old world, especially France & Italy, with a strong focus on Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wines.

Joseph grew up in Italy and California, but left The States in 2002 and now resides in Poland.

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