Sense and Sustainability ⏤ Wine Tasting in Mazara del Vallo
Address: Vineyard Tenuta Gorghi Tondi. Contrada San Nicola, 91026, Mazara del Vallo (TP)
It is too perfect. The stylish boot of the Italian peninsula, thigh-high, slightly scrunched about the shaft, very high-heeled and rather almond-toed, kicks a triangular-shaped rock into the Mediterranean Basin. At least, that’s what it looks like through our modern mapping technologies. Could the ancient Phoenicians have foreseen such an avant-garde styling choice when they named a river on the southwestern coast of Sicily Mazara, which, more curiously, is the name of a nearby city today and bears great similarity to the Arabic word for rock (al-mazar)?
Nicknamed the “balcony of the Mediterranean,” Mazara del Vallo is an ornamental balustrade that looks out over the sea. Its location causes its inhabitants to feel an innate connection to the sea and to fishing culture at large. This is notable in its cuisine: even the most critical chefs consider the red prawn of Mazara, the so-called “jewel” of the sea, among the best of its kind. Why? Because the prawn is caught at 700 meters deep, and then immediately frozen by tenured fishermen, sans bisulphates.
To start the day in and about Mazara del Vallo, locals suggest a qahweh, or a caffè – whatever one wishes to call the espresso-based drink – along the harbour, overlooking the sea. As the day goes, visitors may find themselves walking at a leisurely pace, the sun shining brightest at noon. At this point, refined wine tasting at Gorghi Tondi can be the perfect treat to accompany the languid afternoon ahead, where the warm hospitality and passion of its owners, the beautiful sights, and the artisanal union between traditional practices and new technologies create a special way to experience wine of the highest quality.
"Refined wine tasting at Gorghi Tondi can be the perfect treat to accompany the languid afternoon ahead."
Eschewing synthetic chemicals and genetically modified organisms, sisters Annamaria and Clara Sala of vineyard Tenuta Gorghi Tondi approach winemaking through sustainable practices. The surrounding region of Mazara del Vallo is fertile and irrigated, and the Natural Reserve of Lake Preola and Gorghi Tondi, a World Wildlife Fund-protected site, is excellently-suited for producing wine. The sisters, who have taken up the art of winemaking from the hands of their grandmother, decided to open the winery in an area with a coastal lake and particularly-shaped natural pools around the Mediterranean shrubland, wetland and Saracen olive trees. The grapes mainly need sun, soil, water and peace in order to grow plump; the rest is left to the careful choices made by winemakers, enhanced by the most refined technologies to elevate the experience to an art.
The rhythms of the day, colours, fragrances and flavours are what make this region special, while the languages spoken – Italian, Arabic, French, Sicilian – give it its character. Mazara del Vallo with its historic centre has an important Magrebi influence, making the qasbah, the central Arab quarter, one of the most interesting to visit. With its twisting alleys and little restaurants, many of them run by Tunisians, it is possible to enjoy tunisian-mazzarese dishes that have been refined for generations. An age-old specialty in Mazara del Vallo is its couscous, which, rather than being made with a vegetarian base as typical in North Africa, here is topped with fresh seafood, and occasionally, red prawn.
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