Cusumano and Etna. The success of Alta Mora

by Livia Belardelli 05/24/17
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Cusumano e l'Etna. Il successo di Alta Mora

Some years ago the Cusumano brothers bought land on the northern slope of Mt. Etna and today their Alta Mora wines are of the highest quality. 

Sicily has always has a special charm, especially during the winter in Rome when the image of that land so full of sunlight and surrounded by the sea helps you not thin about the threat of cold and rain.

It was a winter’s day when I went to the restaurant Dillà, a stone’s throw from the Spanish Stairs, which is owned by the same people as the better-known La Buvette.

The occasion for the visit to this wine friendly restaurant was a tasting of wines from Cusumano’s Sicilian estate. The tasting was led by Diego Cusumano who described his wines and told their story with the hard ‘r’ common to Sicilian dialect. The history of his estate is similar to many others: after years of focusing on quantity and selling their grapes to others, at a certain point to change direction was decded.  Behind this decision were Diego and Alberto Cusumano who with intelligence and foresight began to make wine from their own grapes and create a brand that in only a few years became famous and successful. They started by changing their method of vine training, invested in Ficussa, set 700m above sea level, and brought in an enologist from Piedmont, Mario Ronco. In 2001, they made their debut at Vinitaly with wines from a very hot year, 2000. The wines expressed a youth and dynamism that were in contrast to traits considered typical to Sicilian wine. They represented a new face to a region that up until then had been penalized by the practices of quantity production at the expense of quality.

As Diego pointed out, the timing was perfect because this was a moment when wines from the New World were becoming popular with their roundness and softness and Cusumano were an alternative to the foreign ones. “It was a time when the word ‘barrique’ did not come across as a cuss word,” he told us. The wines were also becoming famous abroad. “I was lucky because when I said Sicily everyone knew where it was and when I said I was from Corleone everyone told me how good my wines were,” he said laughingly.

From then on everything feel into place. The Cusumano family invested in new vineyards to broaden their market and meet the growing demand for their wines. The last vineyard bought was in 2012 and it was just north of their property in Benanti, on Etna, and Diego and Alberto did not miss the chance to acquire it. This new vineyard added three new wines with a volcanic flavor to their line, a white and two reds under the Alta Mora brand. These wines were in addition to wines like Angimbé, the terror of bottle openers who struggle to take out its glass stopper; or Cubia, a pleasing ‘high-altitude’ Insolia from a vineyard 700m above sea level; or the fatter Jalé; and then the bold and warm Nero d’Avola: Sàgana.

Cusumano 
Owner : Diego and Alberto Cusumano
Contrada San Carlo - Via Bisaccia
90047 Partinico (PA)
Tel. +39 091 8908713
Fax +39 0918907933
cusumano@cusumano.it
www.cusumano.it
Facebook: cantinecusumano
Twitter: @cusumanowinery
Year of foundation : 2000
Bottles produced : 2.500.000
Hectars of vineyard : 465

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