Cortese launch

North South Wines launches Premium Sicilian Organic estate in the U.K. : Azienda Agricola Cortese
Written by Dillon Morrall on 21.01.2019, 00:00
Cortese launch

The six wines of Stefano Girelli’s Sicilian estate, Azienda Agricola Cortese, have now arrived in the U.K.  The two tier range of wines are sustainably produced, organic, made from indigenous, ancient grape varieties and are aimed at the premium off and on trade.

A neighbour of Girelli’s original organic Sicilian estate, Feudo di Santa Tresa, in the Vittoria region, Cortese was acquired in 2016 after six years of negotiation.  The estate has always been farmed organically, but was in a terrible state of decay, with both vineyards and winery in need of a great deal of maintenance. 

On closer inspection of the vineyards, despite their wild appearance, it transpired that there were a lot of very old and extremely interesting vines which were producing excellent fruit, so it was decided to carry out the vintage, rather than start on the maintenance immediately and surprisingly good results were achieved. During the harvest period it became clear that these mature vineyards had some unique clones – something really different – and that the fully ripened grapes were truly exceptional, despite the condition of the vineyards.  All of the grapes for the top range, “Cortese Selezione”, are grown on the estate.

Taking tradition as inspiration, Girelli employs ancient wine-making techniques such as fermentation in terracotta, which allows skin-contact for a particularly long time.  The wine is fermented on the skins, finishing the fermentation in botti, and they keep the wine on its fine lees for at least nine months.  Fermentation in open barriques means that they can ferment really small parcels of wine at any one time – a kind of micro-fermentation. 

2016 was really an experimental vintage, which had some great results, and now at the beginning of 2019, we are happy to say that Cortese is delivering the quality that we want in wines which are a true reflection of the personality of the Cortese estate,” explains Stefano Girelli.

The aim is simple and carries on the ethos of the estate,” he continues, “To produce wines as naturally as possible, using organic grapes and making interesting, typical, quality wines following ancient Sicilian traditions, which are further improved by modern methods.”

For the Nostru range, grapes are bought in from trusted growers. The more obscure indigenous grapes include the white varieties  Cataratto Lucido (the highest quality in the Cataratto “family”) and Carricante, as well as the red Nerello Mascalese, which is predominantly grown in the Etna area, where the wines command particularly high prices.


The wines are as follows:

Cortese Nostru, approximate RRP – all £11.99:

v  Cataratto Lucido, Terre Siciliane I.G.P.

v  Carricante, Terre Siciliane I.G.P.

v  Nerello Mascalese, Terre Siciliane I.G.P.

Cortese Selezione:

v  Vanedda Biano Siciliane I.G.P. £17.99

v  Sabuci Cerasuolo di Vittoria D.O.C.G. £20.99

v  Senia Nero d’Avola Terre Siciliane I.G.P. £20.99


The Nostru labels are unusual and striking – vibrant colours and images which reflect the island of Sicily- with the idea of giving them a memorable, distinctive shelf presence, instantly recognizable as Sicilian and organic.  The Selezione labels are more elegant, classic and premium.

The wines are available to the trade via North South Wines.  Please contact for further information.


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