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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Nicolas Belfrage MW & Franco Ziliani

Noto, in south-eastern Sicily's province of Siracusa, famous for its splendid baroque cathedral but much less so for its only DOC, Moscato di Noto, seems to have become the new El Dorado for Italian wine producers. First, Planeta purchased 60ha in 1998, 35 of which have been planted to Moscato, Nero d'Avola for Eloro DOC and Frappato for Cerasuolo di Vittoria. Then Giuseppe Benanti, maybe the highest-profile producer of Etna, bought 70ha in the district of Morsentini. Then Vito Catania of the house of Gulfi in the Ragusa area acquired five vineyards in the zone between Noto and Pachino, opining that the zone was capable of becoming one of the most important oenological sites not only in Sicily but in the whole of Italy'. Now the Tuscans seem to have sniffed a winner. Filippo Mazzei, of Fonterutoli in Chianti Classico, took on 30ha near Noto, yet to be planted. This has been trumped by Antonio Moretti of Tenuta Sette Ponti in Tuscany's Arno valley, producer of the SuperTuscan Oreno which came 10th in Wine Spectator's list of 100 best wines of the world, who has bought 120ha in the district of Maccari, mainly planted to Nero d'Avola. His first wine, a Nero d'Avola called Saia from the 2002 vintage, will be released shortly.