From Ancient to Modern. Etna has it all. A must do for wine lovers.
The most Amazing wine region. Mount Etna. Sicily.
December 10, 2019
In 1988 Giuseppe Benanti a Catania businessman set out to utilise family owned vineyards around Trescastagni on the Eastern and Southeastern side of the mountain with the aim of improving overall quality and illustrating Etna’s promise and Mt Etna’s wine reputation.
Benanti partnered with consulting enologist Salvo Foti who went on to become the Godfather of winemaking on the mountain & today produces his own I Vigneri wines but he has also worked with many small family vineyards transitioning from making wines mainly for private consumption as well as with larger operations establishing outposts on Etna. Other local families were doing similar work in the 1990s though generally with less overall success or recognition for the efforts had the time I’m among them were the historic Barone Di villagrande Estates Nicolosi family and brothers Guglio and Enzo Cambria of Cottanera.
The endeavours of these pioneers along with outstanding results of Cornelissen, de Grazia & Franchetti have generated outside interest in Etna, with the likes of Planeta, Tasca d’Almerita, and Donnafugata joining the Etna entourage.
On our recent trip to Sicily, we were lucky enough to spend 4 days around the Etna region, and in my mind, it is one of the most amazing wine regions I have ever visited. The micro-climates, volcanic soils and harsh terrain make for some really interesting wines.The wineries range from ancient and using traditional methods, thru to some serious money investments, with the latest technology in modern architecturally stunning wineries. One thing is common in all, their hospitality and pride.
The Etna DOC covers around 960 hectares on 3 sides of the volcanic cone, and there are about 285 wine producers. The most commonly produced form of Etna wine is the standard Etna Rosso, a red made predominantly from the Nerello Mascalese grape variety with up to a 20 percent addition of Nerello Cappucio (also known here as Nerello Mantellato). Its bianco (white) counterpart is composed of at least 60 percent Carricante backed up by Sicily’s most widely planted white grape, Cataratto and a host of minor additions including Trebbiano. There is also a relatively rare rosato (rosé) form also based on Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio.
Whilst there it is a must to do a jeep trip to the highest point on Mt Etna, and view what the Lava has done over the the past 500 years. Our tour spends a couple of days in this region, and i am taking a group of wine lovers back there in early 2021. If you are interested give me a call. Follow my blog, Postcards from Sicily