- Sicily, Italy
Criante is a certified organic polyculture farm in Alcamo, Sicily. This is the western part of the island, in the province of Trapani, the dead-center of the Mediterranean Sea, a bit closer to Tunisia than to mainland Italia.
The Adragna family are the third generation to farm this land, though they have much deeper roots in Alcamo. Davide Adragna and his wife, Irene Figlia, are the face of the estate. 2019 was their first harvest under the moniker Criante, which incorporates all their farming activities.
As I introduce new wineries to Bowler’s portfolio, I’m increasingly searching for coherence, cohesion, and integrity. If something is described as project, it’s important that it’s not simply a commodity—it’s not enough to have a tasty, well-priced wine with a fun label slapped on it. The world has enough wine.
I knew shortly after meeting Davide and Irene that they were the real deal, two people invested in the traditions and future of their homeland, who happen to make wine. They clearly communicate what they’re doing and why, with quiet confidence. Seriousness with a smile. And they’re young. Frankly, they’re adorable!
Criante’s operations are divided between 15 hectares of farmland (olives, legumes, eggs, heirloom Sicilian wheat and grains, fruit/vegetables including dry-farmed tomatoes) and 15 hectares of grapevines (Catarratto, Grillo, Nero d’Avola, Perricone). They own Sicilì Bottega Biologica, a small food and wine market in downtown Alcamo, where they sell all the things, including products from other like-minded Sicilian food and wine producers.
Their vineyards are divided between the towns of Alcamo (Contrada Modica—slightly more coastal, more sand in topsoil) and neighboring Calatafimi-Segesta (Contrada Valle—slightly more inland, more clay in topsoil). Though both areas fall within the confines of the Alcamo DOC, they prefer to use IGP Terre Siciliane or DOC Sicilia, as the parameters for Alcamo DOC are geared to fairly conventional wine. The paradox is that, to achieve Alcamo “typicity,” Criante would be forced to fine, filter, or otherwise add various enological products to their wine. They, and other Alcamo producers, have petitioned for more freedom.
West Sicily is a warm, semi-arid zone. It’s subject to the scirocco, an intensely hot wind coming off the Sahara, which can reach hurricane speeds. And yet, native varieties like Catarratto (Sicily’s most-planted grape and Italy’s third-most) have adapted to this climate over millennia, seemingly dealing with climate change better than many famous grapes of Central and North Italy. I’d like to think of Criante as Catarratto “specialists,” as they smartly tame its notorious yields and make three distinct wines from it, from each of the biotypes—Extralucido, Lucido, and Comune. The expressiveness and freshness are remarkable.
A lot is spoken about the “potential” of the deep South of Italy. Criante is part of a growing ferment of young estates inviting you experience that this promise has already been realized.
-Kevin Russell, Bowler Italy Portfolio Manager