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  Wine Producers Issue 53, June 2007   
FlorioFlorio  Contents 
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Florio

Established in 1832 by Vincenzo Florio, the prestigious winery of Marsala is still today the protagonist of important pages of history and great wines, such as the new Marsala Superiore Riserva Donna Franca

 The history of Marsala is among the most amazing ones known today, not only because it is a wine discovered as an accidental consequence by its “inventor”, but also for the fact it is one of the greatest Italian wines. In past times, Marsala has been capable of being compared and winning the challenge against the wines considered at those times the best ones in the world. After up and downs, today Marsala is living a new and shining life, where quality is finally one of the main characteristics of this wine, while leaving back - and hopefully forever - the errors and mistakes done by many producers for too many years. In the course of the last twenty years, producers made considerable efforts in order to finally give back to Marsala the dignity this great wine is worth of, as well as paying higher attention on the vinification practices and on quality. In fact, today we can say the famous Victory Wine, very appreciated by admiral Horatio Nelson, is finally back.


A view of Florio Winery
A view of Florio Winery

 The history of Marsala, despite it is now very popular, it is always worth to remember, a history having among its protagonists Vincenzo Florio, the first Italian to establish a winery dedicated to the production of this wine. History tells in 1773, because of a storm, the English merchant John Woodhouse was forced to land to the port of Marsala, instead to the one of Mazara del Vallo, where he was sailing for his businesses. When he set his foot on land, he entered a tavern in search of relief and relax and here he had the chance to try the local wine. In fact they served him some perpetuum, the wine traditionally produced at Marsala. Perpetuum - or perpetuo (literally, perpetual) - was produced by filling the cask with the wine of the latest harvesting and then drawn off according to need, the cask was then refilled - which contained some of the wine of all the preceding vintages - with new wine. A wine therefore undergoing a natural oxidation process according to its progressive emptying and taking “new life” with the adding of the wine from the new vintage.

 Woodhouse found that wine particularly good, also because it reminded him the famous wines of Madeira and Jerez, being very appreciated in his homeland. Being a talented merchant, he decided to ship some of that wine to England while hoping to start a flourishing commerce. As Woodhouse knew of the adverse condition the wine is usually suffering in the holds of ships, he decided to add some brandy to each cask in order to ensure a better keeping. Then Woodhouse returned to England with his precious load and, when he arrived, he realized the reinforced wine was become better than when he left Sicily: it was a striking success. Woodhouse returned back to Sicily and established his winery for the production of wine: in few years his Marsala wine became successful in England and it soon become the wine mainly consumed in the ships of Her Britannic Majesty's fleet. It is said Horatio Nelson - who particularly appreciated Marsala - used to celebrate the victories in his battles with this wine, and for this reason it was called victory wine.


Carlo Casavecchia, Wine maker and
general manager of Cantine Florio
Carlo Casavecchia, Wine maker and general manager of Cantine Florio

 At the beginning of the 1800s, two Englishmen, encouraged by the success of Woodhouse, entered the history of Marsala: Benjamin Ingham and his nephew John Whitaker who established Ingham winery near the one of Woodhouse. Thanks to their work, the quality and the production of Marsala developed greatly. It will be in 1832 the first Italian will enter the scene of Marsala. It was Vincenzo Florio - skilled merchant from Bagnara Calabra, at those times successful merchant of spices and descendant from one of the most prestigious and rich Italian family of that time - who decided to establish his winery between the ones of Woodhouse and Ingham. The contribution of Vincenzo Florio for the development and the image of Marsala was remarkable. Thanks to this, Marsala soon changed its image and from wine destined to the sailors of the English fleet, it became a wine appreciated and looked for in the noble courts all over Europe. The skill and the success of the Florio family and their wines seems to be unstoppable and in 1904 they establish, together with other entrepreneurs of Marsala, S.A.V.I (Società Anonima Vinicola Italiana, Anonymous Italian Wine making Society) which in few years acquires the wineries of Woodhouse and Ingham-Whitaker.

 In 1924, because of the lack of male inheritors, the Florio family decides to sell the winery of Marsala to Cinzano, another important family in the history of Italian wine. In the course of the last world war, because of the bombing raids of the allied aviation, Florio wineries were severely damaged, and the restoration of the winery required a very long time, and only in 1984 the restoration will be completed. In January 1998 the control of Florio winery passes to ILLVA Saronno Holding, which in 1987 already owned the 50% of the firm's shares, therefore beginning a new and important chapter of this historical winery. Important and fundamental changes in the production and commercial management are in fact introduced, by putting wine maker Carlo Casavecchia in charge of the production management. Thanks to his competence and skill, Carlo Casavecchia will give a fundamental contribution to the rebirth of Marsala Florio - as well as to the qualitative image of Marsala in general - by adopting scrupulous selections in every phase of production and by introducing productive criteria of very high quality. The result of the Carlo Casavecchia's and Florio's work are now indisputable: Marsala is today living again the glorious events of its history and the Florio name is everywhere in the world the synonym of quality Marsala.


 

 The current production of Florio Winery is divided between excellent Marsala and sweet wines, such as Malvasia delle Lipari, Passito di Pantelleria, Grecale and Morsi di Luce, an excellent wine made from Moscato d'Alessandria, known in Sicily as Zibibbo. Florio is currently producing five different styles of Marsala: Marsala Superiore “Vecchioflorio” - an excellent value wine - Marsala Superiore Riserva Targa, Marsala Vergine Terre Arse, the excellent Marsala Vergine Baglio Florio and, the last born, Marsala Superiore Riserva Donna Franca, a tribute to Donna Franca Florio, a prominent figure of belle epoque, as well as woman of refined class and beauty. Marsala Superiore Riserva Donna Franca is in fact the last magic created by wine maker Carlo Casavecchia, result of years of researches and studies, which led to the creation of this charming and smooth wine which will certainly be capable of satisfying the sense of the most exacting enthusiasts. Donna Franca is in fact a Marsala Superiore Riserva of indisputable class and elegance, a continuous discovery made of aromas and emotions, the confirmation of the quality Marsala Florio has been capable to prove in the course of its long and prestigious history.

 




Score legend

Fair    Pretty Good    Good
Very Good    Excellent
Wine that excels in its category Wine that excels in its category
Good value wine Good value wine
Prices are to be considered as indicative. Prices may vary according to the country
or the shop where wines are bought




Marsala Superiore Riserva Targa Riserva 1840 1997, Florio (Sicily, Italy)
Marsala Superiore Riserva Targa Riserva 1840 1997
Florio (Sicily, Italy)
Grapes: Grillo
Price: € 11.00 Score:
Marsala Superiore Riserva Targa Riserva 1840 shows a deep amber yellow color and nuances of amber yellow, transparent. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of fig jam, caramel and almond followed by aromas of rancho, apricot jam, vanilla, honey, orange marmalade, date, licorice and leather. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, an alcoholic and sweet attack, however balanced, full body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of fig jam, date and almond. Marsala Superiore Riserva Targa Riserva 1840 ages for at least 6 years in cask followed by at least 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Confectionery, Almond tarts, Hard and piquant cheese



Marsala Vergine Terre Arse 1998, Florio (Sicily, Italy)
Marsala Vergine Terre Arse 1998
Florio (Sicily, Italy)
Grapes: Grillo
Price: € 15.50 Score:
Marsala Vergine Terre Arse shows a brilliant amber yellow color and nuances of amber yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of rancho, dried fig and almond followed by aromas of walnut husk, vanilla, citrus fruit peel, nail polish, raisin, honey, date and licorice. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, an alcoholic attack and pleasing roundness, however balanced, full body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of dried fig, almond and honey. Marsala Vergine Terre Arse ages for at least 8 years in cask followed by at least 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Smoked fish, Roasted meat, Hard cheese



Marsala Vergine Baglio Florio 1993, Florio (Sicily, Italy)
Marsala Vergine Baglio Florio 1993
Florio (Sicily, Italy)
Grapes: Grillo
Price: € 18.00 - 50cl Score:
Marsala Vergine Baglio Florio shows a brilliant amber yellow color and nuances of amber yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of rancho, dried fig and almond followed by aromas of walnut husk, honey, vanilla, licorice, apricot jam, nail polish, tobacco, raisin, citrus fruit peel and leather. The mouth has excellent correspondence to the nose, an alcoholic attack and pleasing roundness, however balanced, full body, intense flavors. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of dried fig, almond and honey. A well made wine. Marsala Vergine Baglio Florio ages for more than 10 years in cask followed by at least one year of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Smoked fish, Roasted meat, Hard cheese



Marsala Superiore Riserva Semisecco Ambra Donna Franca, Florio (Sicily, Italy)
Marsala Superiore Riserva Semisecco Ambra Donna Franca
Florio (Sicily, Italy)
Grapes: Grillo
Price: € 25.00 - 50cl Score:
Marsala Superiore Riserva Donna Franca shows an intense amber yellow color and nuances of amber yellow, transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas that start with hints of dried apricot, dried fig, date and almond followed by aromas of caramel, vanilla, candied fruit, raisin, rhubarb, nail polish, citrus fruits peel, honey and licorice. The mouth has excellent correspondence to the nose, an alcoholic and sweet attack, however balanced, full body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of dried apricot, dried fig, honey and almond. A well made wine. Marsala Superiore Riserva Donna Franca is the evolution of “Riserva Aegusa”, selection of the best Florio's Marsala created around the end of the 1800s. Ages for at least 15 years in cask followed by at least 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Dried fruit tarts, Chocolate, Hard and piquant cheese



Cantine Florio - Via Vincenzo Florio, 1 - 91025 Marsala, Trapani (italy) - Tel. +39 923 781111 Fax: +39 923 982380 - Winemaker: Carlo Casavecchia - Established: 1833 - Production: 3.500.000 bottles - E-Mail: info@cantineflorio.it - WEB: www.cantineflorio.it



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