The de Bartoli brothers grow grapes in many different parts of Marsala. No fertilizers are ever used, as they feel the plant’s roots need to go deep into the soil to keep their substance. It’s very dry where they are, so mildew and odium are not a concern. They use about three sulfur treatments a year on the vines, and are certified organic. The soils vary, but are mostly composed of limestone; sand and volcanic ash are also present. The brothers specialize in growing white grapes, and the grape they grow the most of is Grillo, which in indigenous to Marsala but now grown in other parts of Sicily. It’s very high yielding, and in the last 50 years most growers have been selling in bulk to cooperatives, so value has plummeted. And while people now use a ton of other grapes to make Marsala (which has now become little more than cheap cooking wine), the de Bartolis feel that is the ONLY grape to use when making an authentic one. Why? Because it maintains high acidity, which is great for aging. And true Marsalas are real wines capable of aging, capable of elevating the palate, the spirit, and a meal in the same way that other great wines can.
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