- Country: Italy
- Region: Sicily
Rapitalà, “Beautiful Garden of God”, lies between the towns of Camporeale and Alcamo, in the northwest corner of Sicily. In 1968 French Count, Hugues Bernard de la Gatinais, married Gigi Guarrasi, a descendant of a great family from Palermo. With her, he engaged in a passionate and courageous vinous adventure: the renovation of the cellars and vineyards of Tenuta Rapitalà, an estate that had been destroyed by the Belice Valley earthquake of 1968 and which the couple inherited from the Guarrasi family.
Since the earthquake Count Hugues and his wife devoted themselves to the viticultural re-organization of the vineyards and it was at this point that he introduced French varieties to Sicilian terroir, a project never before taken-on by another Sicilian winemaking estate. In 1976, the first harvest destined for bottling was made and Tenuta Rapitalà soon became a leader of the quality revolution in Sicilian oenology. The work, started by Hugues de la Gatinais and his wife Gigi, is now carried on by their son, Laurent, with the same care and passion.
The 618-acre contiguous vineyard slope that is Tenuta Rapitalà is characterized by gentle, undulating hills that start at 985-foot elevation and gently climb up to almost 2,000 feet on soils that alternate between clay and sand. Varying exposures, altitudes and soils create a universe of terroirs that drives the success of this estate. This vineyard is divided into 180 unique parcels, each of which is managed, harvested and vinified separately for optimal terroir expression. Recently rebuilt, the cellar now benefits from the most innovative vinification equipment and techniques: cooling equipment for the grapes and musts; steel fermenters with computerized systems for controlling temperatures, remontage (punching down of the cap) and cap management. (This also means that these cellar innovations enable harvesting from mid-August through November based on the correct ripeness for each variety and parcel. No one else in Sicily has a harvest window this large.) The cellar holds French oak barriques (20% new) and large French oak casks from 1,300 gallons to 800 gallons in volume.
Rapitalà strives to craft estate wines that exhibit the bold flavors and Mediterranean aromas intrinsic to the Sicilian terroir.