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This is an exciting time for us. We are about to introduce the first winemaker in our new portfolio, Battista Belvisi from Pantelleria, Italy. We are very proud and honored to represent him.
If you don’t know Pantelleria, it is a small, beautiful volcanic island southwest of Sicily. It’s a very special place for us. Seba has visited many times and we have several good friends who live there. Seba always reminds us, from the island where he lives now in the Puget Sound, how unique the scents and the air of Pantelleria are, and how he misses them!
So Pantelleria was on our radar, and we are so fortunate that we met Battista Belivisi. We couldn’t hope for better now that we know how special his wines are. Even though his winery, Abbazia San Giorgio, is quite young, Battista is far from a beginner when it comes to making wine. He was born and raised on the island, helping his father and grandfather make Passito in the traditional way. Later, Battista left the island to study agronomy in Palermo. Unlike many other students who stayed on the mainland Sicily after finishing school, he decided to return to Pantelleria. He quickly applied his education to the cultivation of vine and the making of wine. He worked as a consultant for a conventional winery for a time, and later collaborated with Gabrio Bini of Seragghia winery, where he grew the grapes and made wine for 11 years.
After 11 years on Bini’s project, Battista finally decided to create his own wine and his own domain, and that was the beginning of Abbazia San Giorgio. His intention has always been to make very natural wines that respect the ancient traditions, but that also explore new directions.
Battista preparing the Zibibbo grapes for the first sun-drying pass.
For example, he is making dry wines from Zibibbo, the traditional grape grown in Pantelleria, also known as Muscat of Alexandria and usually used in sweet wine. In “Orange”, he does not hesitate to let the skins macerate until the end of the fermentation process, which results in a beautiful skin-fermented white wine with a very strong, dry flavor profile.
I try to interfere with Nature as little as possible.
Nature is perfect. It doesn’t need us.
Similarly, his elegant “Cloé,” from Nerello Mascalese, a grape not typically found on Pantelleria, but rather in similar soils in the north of Sicily, was the result of Battista’s explorations.
Also look for “Magico,” Battista’s take on Passito, which is the wine that put Pantelleria on the map; “Lustro,” a skin-contact white from the Cataratto grape traditionally grown in Pantelleria; “Canto del Grillo,” a dry white from, you guessed it, the Grillo grape; and “Rosso dei Sesi,” a medium-bodied red from the Pignatello grape.
Battista with friend and partner Beppe Fontana in Abbazia San Giorgio’s vineyard.
All Battista Belvisi’s wines are the result of a clear and natural approach to winemaking, which can be summed up quickly:
ultra small production (be aware, if you are interested, they will go fast),
minimum intervention in the cellar as well as in the vineyard.
Battista doesn’t run after certifications, and that is why he is neither Organic or Biodynamic certified. But be assured, he uses organic and biodynamic methods, and we’ve been with him in the vineyard and can testify about it! He uses only natural wild yeast, and severely limits the use of additives. Most of his wines have no added sulfite (as of this year, the only addition are to “Canto del Grillo” and “Magico”, to which he added very small amounts of sulfites at bottling).
We got a chance to record a small conversation with him, which you can check out below.