The winery cellars
Founded in 1833 by Vincenzo Florio, the Florio Winery in Marsala look out towards the bright sea of western Sicily. Wrapped by the energy of the winds, brushed by a salty tang from the waves, these beautiful and silent cellars harbour the oak-wood barrels where Florio Marsala gently ages in seemingly motionless movement. Hundreds of barrels, vats and kegs, each holding its own story, breathe the sea through the tuff-stone floor, in the high naves where perfumes and architecture blend. This wonderful place is the theatre where the Sicilian idea of beauty is distilled, and our Winemaker Tommaso Maggio – through the wise use of space, time and oxygen – creates Marsala wine by slowly blending all its sensorial potentials.
Grapes and territory
A perfect synergy between the land and the vineyard sows the seed that eventually becomes Marsala wines. And the sea is the protagonist of this first act of winemaking craftsmanship. With its rows and rows of white Grillo grapes, the vineyards thrive in a unique wild landscape made of sun, wind and sea. The organoleptic path towards a future Grillo with an “evolutionary” character involves the courage to dare right from the vineyard phase, by carefully over-ripening the grapes. Polyphenolic richness becomes the backbone on which the wine’s performance on the palate will be based, while its sugary generosity as it turns into alcohol will enhance its elegant evolutionary style.
Each harvest is the child of an ancient knowledge, which brings grapes to the cellar ready to be vinified forcefully, in a complex, surgical, balanced process, on the verge of excess. When creating an evolutionary style Grillo wine, classical soft winemaking gives way to a more robust approach, using extreme extraction of the must from the grape, with an instinctive management of fermentation temperature and continuous and rhythmic ‘sur lie’ aging on the lees. The soul of Grillo, which tastes fresh and crunchy in normal table wines, with this treatment turns into a wine with a bold skeleton, unique in its kind, characterised by subtle marine hints of seaweed and salt, plus an elegant mood.
The encounter between wine and alcohol is the first step towards “becoming Marsala”. In the creation of a fortified wine aching for infinity, time plays a fundamental role and the winemaker becomes a sculptor, endowing shape and elegance to the wine, designing its evolutionary future with micro-oxygenation techniques.
The winemaker seeks epiphanies, awaits their sensorial manifestation in the ancient aisles of the Baglio cellar, at the mercy of time… What we call “a listening kind of winemaking”.
Extreme oenology, listening, and deep intimacy with the cellars, is vital to the liquid art of Marsala creation. Ancestral skills and know-how, understanding grape ripening times, pressing times, lying on lees time, lovemaking time, evolution in oak-wood time… All listened to, by the Winemaker’s smoothly beating heart: the ancient whisper of Marsala. Visceral art, carried out every day, for love and with love, conjured up by delicacy, intelligence and sometimes brutality and well aware of creating something that many years later will tell our story to those who drink a glass of Marsala Florio.
of aging in the cellars
The Florio Winery, with their high arching naves and their tuff-stone floor, contain four great naves, lapped by the sea. Four differently acclimatised environments widen the range of tastes available to the winemaker. Each cellars sings its own song, a different voice, a different complicity with the sea. Different temperatures and “Salted” humidity slowly feed the Marsala wines during their long aging and maturing process. The climatic contexts of aging change significantly away from the sea, characterising the sensorial personality of the wine. The closer to the sea, the more the temperature drops, and the salty moisture increases. The closer to the sea, the more the Marsala wines are enriched with undertones of seaweed and savoury tastes. The more you move towards the apex of the cellars, the more the influence of temperature and lower humidity endows the Marsala with more complex tertiary aromas. The Florio Winery breathe the surrounding environment, with its seasons, its hot summers and rainy winters, its warm southern winds and share that environment with varied kinds of oak, adding personality and colour to the maturing Marsala.
A slow, continuous movement, in time with the rhythms of the seasons, calls the Marsala towards infinity. The ability to listen to this liquid movement and the phrasing of its temperatures, allows the Winemaker to exercise his art, in a continuous interplay of balances and inspirations, shaping the tastes and perfumes of the Marsala.
A forest of woods
When you enter the Florio Winery, you find yourself walking in an enchanted forest, where countless vats, barrels and kegs of fine oak line up in a fluid order of variable sizes, constantly changing according to the intuitions of the Winemaker. New woods alternate with aged and generous woods, which emanate whispers of caramel and salt. They come in all sizes, from giant vats of several hundred hectolitres that welcome you at the entrance, to small containers of a few hectolitres. The Winemaker uses the art of refinement, the art of spatial use, the art of time, giving flavour, roundness, and Marsala’s duration on the palate. This gives voice to the tertiary, spicy and sweet evolutionary component, there inside the Cellars, a garden of oaks with deep roots that feed on the sea.
The Angel’s Share
The Angel’s Share is a term that indicates the amount of liquid evaporated “in heaven” during the years of Marsala’s aging in oak wood. However, this “loss” – far from being a problem – is a useful index of value, expressing the art of construction craftsmanship and temporal uniqueness in a percentage, measuring Florio’s liquid art. It reflects the extreme synthesis of Listening Winemaking, and expresses the many sensorial characteristics of Marsala, from its gentlest and most welcoming manifestations to its sensorial epiphanies of greater complexity. During the aging process, the product experiences the continuous movement around it, breathes the climate of the open air, changes shape, and evaporates according to the temperature, the humidity and the size of the barrel holding it. While maturing, the Angel’s Share of Marsala is proportional to the increase in temperature inside the cellars and to the length of time it remains in the wood, and is inversely proportional to the size of the container. The Winemaker chooses the part of the cellars where he will ‘grow’ his own Marsala and build his vision of its aging as the sum of different places of growth in the climatic map of the cellars, where it will enjoy the many different dimensions of the vats. Thus he will use the aging period as a sculptor uses his chisel, as he builds the Angel’s Share of his wine in symbiosis with the cellars.
The size of the vats:
Florio has always produced its Marsalas using grapes that grow along the coasts of western Sicily. Everything starts from here, from vineyards overlooking the sea and absorbing its salinity and heat, grown while respecting the nature of the vine and the soil. These are the grapes we use to create Marsala, a sustainable wine by definition, not only at the winemaking level but also in terms of the socio-economic life which surrounds it. Marsala Florio falls within the DOC Marsala protected denomination, one of the oldest in Italy, which enriches an entire territory, supports its social fabric and enhances Marsala consumption. The Florio Winery, built in tuff-stone and equipped with a natural ventilation system, have always been an example of sustainable architecture, committed to the use of local raw materials and workers: long ago as it is today. Their maintenance and enhancement, and particularly their constantly being open to the public – which encourages knowledge of an important part of Sicilian production history – represent a fine example of cultural sustainability.
The origins of Marsala
off lands who reached this corner of Sicily by sea, since the times of the Phoenicians, who had the merit of introducing viticulture to Sicily. Strong wines with character have been produced here since ancient times, thanks to the unique sugary charge of the grapes that ripen under the sea-scorched sun. However, it was not until 1773 that the English merchant John Woodhouse, to escape the naval blockade imposed by Napoleone, was forced to stock up on food, including wine, in Sicily. A wine that, once brought to England with the addition of alcohol to prevent the wine from deteriorating during the journey, was liked so much, thanks also to its affinities with the Madeira and Porto’ wines, already very popular in Great Britain, that it started a prosperous trade. And thus was born Marsala wine as we know it today. This reinforced sweet wine was so successful that it attracted other English entrepreneurs to Sicily, who began to produce it, and shortly afterwards the first Italian began production, namely Vincenzo Florio. He too arrived by sea, from Calabria, and was the first to launch his family’s fortunes, based among other things on accumulating an impressive shipping fleet, and dedicated himself to producing this unique wine, creating the suggestive Florio Winery in 1833. The history of the Florio family is full of illustrious and cultured lovers of beauty and honour, but it also reveals a history of entrepreneurial quest for modernity and innovation, which in 150 years changed the economic face of Sicily forever. The Florio Winery and Marsala wines are a vivid expression of this, and to this day continue the same avant-garde spirit looking towards the future, driven by the Brand’s DNA.
There are various different types of Marsala, classified according to the type of wood tanning, the years of aging in wood, the sugar content and the colour.
Type of tanning
The fundamental distinction is between Marsala Vergine, Marsala Fine and Marsala Superiore:
Marsala Vergine is made by adding alcohol* obtained from grapes suitable for making DOC Marsala. When making Marsala Vergine, it is forbidden to use siphon techniques or cooked must.
Marsala Fine and Superiore are born from the addition of alcohol*, using siphons and, sometimes, must cooked in wine, obtained from grapes suitable for making DOC Marsala.
The siphon is the term used when the product is made by adding alcohol* to the must in order to regulate the sugar content of Marsala Fine and Superiore.
The cooked must is obtained by heating the must at low heat for several hours, until the liquid is reduced to a third of its original volume, and is then used to characterise the Marsala Fine and Marsala Superiore with an amber colour.
* ethyl alcohol of viticultural origin or wine brandy
Based on the years of aging, the types of Marsala are divided as follows:
Based on sugar content, the types of Marsala Fine and Superiore are divided into:
Based on the colour, Marsala types are divided into:
The Pyramid of Marsala
The summary diagram of the various types of Marsala:
A magic garden filled with oak-wood dreams, of naked architectures, of aromas and flavours, of lovemaking sweetness, of listening to the steps between tuff-stone and time in the cellars, home to the new Florio Marsala project: Marsala Classic, Marsala Premium and Marsala Exclusive.
Rare reserve wines and excellent wines appreciated worldwide, which thrive with time and on the secret relationship between man, sea and the changing environments of the Florio Wine Cellars. This is what makes these Marsala wines so special.
Three Marsala wines that go perfectly with fine raw materials, offering an unforgettable taste experience.
A true classic by the Florio brand, this Marsala wine goes perfectly with delicious desserts, but is also ideal for an aperitif with friends. Discover VecchioFlorio!