Sun and Sea: The Sicilian Refreshment of Il Mortellito

Sun and Sea: The Sicilian Refreshment of Il Mortellito

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      One of the benefits of working with small producers is that we get to work with more winemakers. Almost nobody whose wines we carry make enough for us to have year-round, which is often frustrating — for you, if you find a new wine you love; and for us, as we have to keeping finding new wines for the shelves. However, the upside is that our sales are spread out to more people, more winemakers with different approaches. The barrier to entry is relatively low, since stores like ours are always looking for new wines. The wines of Il Mortellito are just the latest example of this process: though we can't get any more Cornelissen, we found another Sicilian producer to take the slot.

      Dario Serrentino was selling his grapes to winemakers and eventually realized he could make the wine himself — and that there was a market for his modest level of production in places like New York. This shift has been happening a lot in the past few decades, empowering to families and farmers in many ways and has transformed not only Burgundy and Champagne, but less-rarefied regions like the Val di Nota in southeast Sicily, where Dario makes the Il Mortellito wines.


      Dario's viticulture practices were at a level that Sicilian natural-wine celebrity Frank Cornelissen was purchasing his grapes until a few years ago. The wines that Dario makes from his own fruit are different from Cornelissen's but he manages to retain some important similarities: mainly, that these wines are simultaneously intellectual and thirst-quenching. Engaging and refreshing is a pretty dangerous combination, and that is true of any wine. The fact that these are all under $30 is just plain exciting.