Why Sicily’s Mount Etna Is A Hot Spot For Wine Production (Forbes)

Between 1786 and 1788 German philosopher Johann Wolfgang Goethe travelled throughout Italy. He then wrote his book titled, in Italian, Viaggio in Italia—or, Italian Journey. After passing through Verona, Venice, Rome and Naples he explored the island of Sicily, and wrote that in order to understand the entire country of Italy, ‘Sicily is the clue to everything.

Italy is divided into 20 administrative regions—the southernmost being the island of Sicily. The region contains both eight percent of Italy’s land area as well as eight percent of the nation’s total population. The east of the island is distinguished by the largest active volcano in Italy—Mount Etna.

When he viewed Mount Etna in early May, Goethe remarked how ‘snow extends widely around the mountain and presents insurmountable obstacles,’ and noted how locals recommended that he ride by horseback to see remnants of the famed volcanic eruption of 1669, when magma flowed all the way to the city of Catania—10 miles (16 kilometers) away. Since that time when Goethe witnessed those gnarled volcanic slopes and published his book, the topography of Etna has continued to change. Another eruption in 1852 produced more than 2 billion cubic feet (56 million cubic meters) or debris that covered three square miles (7.7 square kilometers) of land, while in 1979 an eruption began that lasted 13 years.

(Publication of Goethe’s book—incidentally—apparently influenced a number of German winemakers to move to the eastern part of Sicily, where they practiced viticulture on the slopes of Etna.)

Slope of Monti Sartorius, a subsidiary of Mount Etna
Slope of Monti Sartorius, a subsidiary of Mount Etna

Continua a leggere “Why Sicily’s Mount Etna Is A Hot Spot For Wine Production (Forbes)”

Etna: come il vino ha cambiato il territorio (Gambero Rosso)

Qual è il segreto dell’Etna? In sei anni è boom di produzione e di nuove cantine, mentre i terreni sfiorano i 150mila euro all’ettaro. Ecco come il vino ha cambiato tutto il territorio.

Lungo la Strada dell’Etna

Ufficialmente la Statale 120 è conosciuta come “Strada dell’Etna” (e delle Madonie), ma quando nel tratto Nicosia Fiumefreddo attraversa le contrade di Montelaguardia, Passopisciaro, Solicchiata, Rovittello verso Linguaglossa, si è conquistata il soprannome di Via Montenapoleone, la famosa strada milanese del lusso. Infatti, nell’area di pochi chilometri quadrati sono concentrate un elevato tasso di firme stellari, da Franchetti a Planeta, da Girolamo Russo a Tasca, da Pietradolce a Donnafugata, da Terre Nere a Graci – solo per citarne alcune – che stanno dando, insieme alle tante griffe situate negli altri versanti della denominazione, un contributo essenziale alla reputazione dei vini etnei. Continua a leggere “Etna: come il vino ha cambiato il territorio (Gambero Rosso)”

Contrade dell’Etna 2019: 14 e 15 aprile

E’ l’evento dell’anno per gli amanti dei vini dell’Etna: Contrade dell’Etna anche nel 2019 si terrà dopo il Vinitaly di Verona, ma per la prima volta durerà 2 giorni, cioè domenica 14 e lunedì 15 aprile 2019.

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Domenica 14 aprile, i produttori mostreranno l’annata 2018, campioni di botte, mentre lunedì 15 verranno presentate le annate in commercio. L’orario sarà dalle 9:00 alle 17:00, anche quest’anno per la terza volta a Castello Romeo, in Via Montelaguardia 15, a Randazzo.

Le Contrade dell’Etna è un evento create da Andrea Franchetti nel 2007 per promuovere il vitigno autoctono dell’Etna, il nerello mascalese. Le Contrade erano antiche proprietà che nascevano su colate laviche sgorgate, spalmate e raffreddate in varie epoche, di diverse profondità; per questo l’uva che cresce su questi terreni cambia sapore a pochi metri di distanza e la Contrada appare come vero Cru su alcuni fianchi dell’Etna.

Contrade dell’Etna ha fatto parlare tanto negli ultimi anni, nel bene e nel male; noi l’anno scorso ci siamo sentiti in dovere di sottolineare alcune aspetti che speriamo siano presi in considerazione dall’organizzazione quest’anno. Siamo molto contenti di leggere che sembra proprio che qualcuno abbia ascoltato i dubbi e le perprlessità sorte nel corso dell’ultima edizione: infatti quest’anno le cantine dovranno presentarsi con le annate più recenti del vino prodotto, nella giornata di domenica, dedicata alle anteprime, ma saranno liberi di portare anche le annate meno recenti, nella giornata di lunedì. Non ci sarà limite alle annate né alle referenze. 

Ecco l’elenco definitivo delle cantine che hanno scelto di aderire all’evento quest’anno:

  • Aitala
  • Al-Cantara
  • Alice Bonaccorsi
  • Alta Mora
  • Antichi Vinai
  • Azienda Agricola Contino Grazia Maria
  • Azienda Agricola Gumina
  • Azienda Agricola Gambino
  • Azienda Agricola Cantine La Contea
  • Azienda Agricola Sofia
  • Azienda Agricola Spuches
  • Azienda Agricola SRC ss
  • Azienda Agricola Tornatore
  • Azienda Vitivinicola Licciardello
  • Azienda Falcone
  • Barone di Villagrande
  • Benanti
  • Calcagno
  • Camporè
  • Camarda Sebastiano
  • Cantine di Nessuno
  • Cantine Nicosia
  • Cantine Russo
  • Cantine Valenti
  • Ciro Biondi
  • Contrada Santo Spirito di Passopisciaro – Tenuta Setteponti
  • Cottanera
  • Destro Vini
  • Donnafugata
  • Duca di Salaparuta
  • Edomè
  • Federico Curtaz
  • Federico Graziani
  • Feudo Cavaliere
  • Firriato
  • Fischetti
  • Frank Cornelissen
  • Giovanni Rosso
  • Giovi
  • Girolamo Russo
  • Graci
  • Gulfi
  • I Custodi delle Vigne dell’Etna
  • Irene Badalà
  • Massimo Lentsch
  • Monteleone
  • Murgo
  • Oro d’Etna
  • Palmento Costanzo
  • Passopisciaro
  • Pietradolce
  • Pietro Caciorgna
  • Planeta
  • Produttori Etna Nord
  • Quantico Vini
  • Sicily & Co
  • Sorelle Zumbo
  • Stagnitta srls
  • Tenuta Bastonaca
  • Tenuta di Fessina
  • Tenuta Masseria Setteporte
  • Tenuta Tascante
  • Tenute Bosco
  • Tenute di Nuna
  • Tenute Mannino di Plachi
  • Tenute Orestiadi – La Gelsomina
  • Terra Costantino
  • Terrazze dell’Etna
  • Theresa Eccher
  • Torre Mora
  • Travaglianti
  • Vini Scilio
  • Vivera

Questo invece l’elenco delle cantine partecipanti nel 2018 e i nostri Top10 degli eventi del 2017 e 2016

Mareneve, l’anima lirica del supremo Federico Graziani

Violetta Candita

Ho accarezzato la capsula ancora e ancora prima di perdere i freni inibitori e stappare questo flacone custodito con devozione. Brilla di filosofia, mitologia, paradigmatico intuito e lungimirante personalità artistica. Sotto ogni angolazione, accarezzandolo ancora per non perdermi neanche un riflesso, con lo sguardo, la lente MACRO, il desiderio e la sete di sorprendermi ancora, come ogni volta al cospetto di MARENEVE.

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La cosmogonia del vulcano, le piste innevate che hanno l’unicità dello Jonio all’orizzonte, le latitudini estreme che reinventano i vitigni a bacca bianca autoctoni ed internazionali: queste le coordinate di MARENEVE. Si pronuncia come un bacio, un sussurro che resta tra le labbra e le emozioni non appena si fa luce e sorsi.

MARENEVE-06

Il 2017 è una preghiera, un’annata trascendentale e mistica, a cui affidare un desiderio:

dimmi che t’incontrerò ancora tra dieci anni”.

Perché nell’estasi della leggibilità contemporanea di MARENEVE c’è anche il…

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The Wines Of Etna – Excellence from An Extreme Production Zone (Forbes)

Ancient vine in the Etna production zone (PHOTO COURTESY MARCO DE GRAZIA)

Italy is one of the world’s most distinctive wine producing countries, largely because of the predominance of indigenous varieties used in wines across the country. You’ll quite often find a particular varietal planted in only one region or even a small production zone, such as Palagrello Nero and Palagrello Bianco in the Caserta region of Campania.

When it comes to Sicily, indigenous varieties, such as Grillo, Nero d’Avola and Frappato are also part of the viticultural landscape, but so too are international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay. Given the warm – or hot, depending on your viewpoint – temperatures and ample sunshine, just about everything ripens on the island. Continua a leggere “The Wines Of Etna – Excellence from An Extreme Production Zone (Forbes)”

Harvest on Mount Etna – Santa Maria La Nave (VIDEO)

This video tells about the 2017 harvest on Santa Maria La Nave’s vineyard on Monte Ilice. As you will see from this other video, Monte Ilice is a crater of incredible beauty. It is quite recent: less than 1000 years old, nothing if you consider that Mount Etna was born more than 600.000 years ago…

Etneans have understood Monte Ilice agricultural potential and started to cultivate it a few centuries after it was created. The soil, made of black volcanic sand and stone chippings, was perfect to grow Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante, Catarratto, and other local grapes that would be used to make Etnean wines. The grapes stayed intact until they were perfectly mature, thanks to the inclination of the crater, its exposure and its sandy soil, and the wine was deemed of high quality and “suited to the navigation” – i.e. it could endure a long sea journey. These characteristics played a critical part in the survival of the vineyard on Mount Ilice through the centuries. Continua a leggere “Harvest on Mount Etna – Santa Maria La Nave (VIDEO)”

Sicily – A Wine Region That’s An Island Apart (Forbes)

Sicily has many positive images (as well as a few not-so-positive), but when it comes to Sicilian wines, the subject is a bit of a puzzle to many. There are several reasons for this, but lately, producers in select areas such as Vittoria, Noto and Etna are crafting some pretty special products that are receiving a lot of attention and changing the mindset of consumers and the wine trade about the wines of Sicily.

Perhaps the most positive notion of Sicily is that everyone knows the name, and anyone can find it on a map of Italy; this last point is certainly not true with some of the country’s regions such as Abruzzo, Marche or Emilia-Romagna. So familiarity helps gets Sicilian producers get a foot in the door in the market, but unfortunately the identity of this region’s wines has for too long been one of sub-par quality.

This is based on the notion that Sicily is not a place to produce wines of elegance and finesse; the hot climate leads to lower acidity, meaning the wines lack structure and freshness. Add to that the fact that for decades, most table wine that emerged from the region was little more than bulk wine; flavorful, yet heavy, these wines were often shipped in tankers to other parts of Italy to “beef up” lighter red wines.

In fact, the history of quality for Sicilian wines in previous years was primarily focused on Marsala, one of the world’s most highly praised fortified wines, made in several styles, from very dry to medium-sweet. Yet even given the renown for the finest examples of Marsala, the strongest image with this wine for many consumers is for cooking, as with Veal Marsala or Chicken Marsala, hardly the stuff of greatness.

Antonio Rallo, proprietor of Donnafuagata Winery, one of Sicily’s most famous producers (PHOTO COURTESY OF DONNAFUGATA)

About 40 years ago, a few producers decided to do something about the image of Sicilian wines, so production of bulk wine was decreased – although it is still a large part of the region’s wine industry – and planting of international varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah were undertaken. Add to this a new focus on indigenous varieties such as Grillo and Carricante for white and Nero d’Avola and Frappato for red, and all of a sudden, the Sicilian wine pallete was aglow with a multitiude of colors and flavors.

Talk to enough Sicilian producers and you’ll learn they believe that Sicily is a magical place to make wine, as it is such a distinctive land. “The climate, the countryside, the customs, the terroir and its varieties are very different from other regions,” says Alessio Planeta, co-proprietor of his family’s winery, one of the region’s greatest ambassadors.

Alessio Planeta, co-proprietor of Planeta Winery, one of the best known of all Sicilian wine estates (PHOTO COURTESY PLANETA WINERY)

The weather, though it may be hot, does assure that almost anything can grow on the island. “Sicily is regarded a place that can grow almost any grape presenting an extraordinary patrimony of biodiversity with over 70 indigenous grape varieties,” comments Antonio Rallo of Donnafugata, another renowned Sicilian wine estate. “This is why people describe Sicily as a wine continent.

Given its viticultural history skewed toward workman-like wine, it is no surprise that there has not been an iconic Sicilian wine, such as Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany, Barolo and Barbaresco from Piemonte or Amarone from the Veneto. While this may have meant a lack of media attention toward Sicilian wines, the renaissance that started 40 years ago and continues today, has resulted in exciting new ventures and paths of the region’s viticulture. “Sicily is in a constant acquisition of auto renewal,” says Planeta. There is an improvement in knowledge and awareness of our terroirs, as well as among ourselves.”

Today, the wines of the Etna District in northeastern Sicily, are the ones that garner the greatest attention. “Etna is the hot ticket for driving Sicily’s quality image, both in Italy and abroad, with its cooler climate, volcanic contenders red Nerello Mascalese and white Carricante having attracted much global attention among sommeliers and independent merchants,” Rallo remarks. Planeta agrees, commenting, “Etna has the magic at the moment and is a positive thing for all of the island.”

The wines of Etna are something of a minor miracle given the rocky soils of volcanic ash and pumice that were formed by lava flow from the nearby volcano. It’s a difficult venture for a grape grower, notes Giuseppe Tornatore of the eponymous Etna estate. “It takes a lot of patience and dedication because what elsewhere is done in one year, it is done in two years in Etna. It takes a lot of sacrifice, suffering always the magnetism of the volcano and everything that depends on it.

Examples of Etna Bianco are made primarily with the local Carricante grape and have various characteristics, with some offering melon and pear fruit, while others display distinct minerality, even resembling the wines of Chablis in Burgundy. Overall, the best of these whites have shown tremendous improvement in a very short period of time.

It is the reds however that are most famous, made from the indigenous Nerello Mascalese variety. These wines have been called “Italy’s Burgundies,” and no wonder given the appealing cherry and sometimes strawberry aromas and its sleek finish. Some producers have opted as of late for a more powerful style of Etna Rosso that is more tannic (almost like a Nebbiolo-based wine from Piedmont), but this dual identity only adds to the allure of the red wines of Etna.

Planeta Winery near Noto, one of several wine facilities of the company (PHOTO COURTESY OF PLANETA WINERY)

Arguably the best-known red from Sicily over the past twenty years has been Nero d’Avola, an indigenous variety. Its popularity is due to its appealing black cherry and plum fruit backed by relatively smooth tannins. Sicilian producers love it, as it also works well when blended with other red varieties such as Merlot and Syrah.

The Duca di Salaparuta winery bottled the first monovarietal Nero d’Avola they named “Duca Enrico” back in 1984; today this is still regarded as one of the best examples of this variety. Other classic examples include the “Mille e Una Notte” from Donnafugata (about 90% Nero d’Avola) and the “Santa Cecilia” from Planeta, labeled as Noto DOC. This last wine, initially made in the 1997 vintage, has become a classic example of Nero d’Avola structured for aging, as 12 and 15-year old bottles are still drinking well.

Another red that has become successful over the past few years is Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato. Cerasuolo means “cherry like”; this fruit emerges in the aromas, along with red and orange rose perfumes, and there are soft, silky tannins, thanks to the Frappato. Here is a red that tastes great when chilled for 15-20 minutes, and given the lightness of the tannins, it is ideal with duck breast, chicken in red wine or even tuna. Top examples include the Feudi del Pisciotto “Giambattista Valli”, the “Floramundi” from Donnafugata, and the alluring, ultra delicious “Dorilli” from Planeta.

Briefly on whites, Grillo is an indigenous variety that for years was used in the production of Marsala. But on its own, it has appealing exotic fruit aromas and pairs well with a variety of foods, from poultry to lighter seafood; look for the examples from Valle dell’Acate and the “Sur Sur” from Donnafugata.

There are countless other whites that I can recommend, from the 100% Fiano from Planeta known as “Cometa,” a sumptuous, dry white that is among Italy’s best, as well as “Lighea” a dry Zibibbo (Moscato) from Donnafugata, and the Tasca d’Almerita “Contea di Sclafani” Chardonnay. There are countless treasures – white, red and sweet – throughout Sicily – and the best producers there are diligent in their efforts to take the region’s wines to the next step, as Planeta remarks. “We are past the period of experimentation and are now in a period of increasing our knowledge of our terroirs. We are uniting the results of past years with a studious attention of tradition.

The rest of this interesting article and the notes on current releases are here.

Un tesoro di virtù nei vitigni reliquia dell’Etna (National Geographic)

Avete mai sentito parlare del Terribile, della Vispara Etna o della Madama Nera? Sono vitigni Etnei a rischio d’estinzione.

Sul sito del National Geographic è comparso ieri un articolo molto interessante su una ventina di piante rare e a rischio di estinzione che sono state studiate e salvate dall’oblio: uve antiche da cui ottenere vini particolari, ma anche geni per migliorare le varietà più diffuse.

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Un elemento tipico dei vigneti etnei: le “rasole”, realizzate con pietra lavica e usate per consentire il passaggio tra i vigneti. (Fotografia di Elisabetta Nicolosi e Filippo Ferlito)

Le chiamano “reliquie”: sono piante rare e a rischio di estinzione. Ma resistono e producono uve dolci, colorate e spesso molto resistenti alle malattie. Nella maggior parte dei casi i ricercatori dell’università di Catania e del Crea hanno trovato questi vitigni disseminati, qua e là, all’interno di vigneti di varietà più note alle pendici dell’Etna. Custoditi da agricoltori spesso consapevoli del loro valore.

Continua a leggere “Un tesoro di virtù nei vitigni reliquia dell’Etna (National Geographic)”

Etna, i vini dell’isola nell’Isola

The Wine Training

Orizzontale di Nerello Annata 2014 promossa da l’Associazione Grandi Cru della Costa Toscana nella sede storica del Real Collegio di Lucca.

I rossi del Vulcano

I vigneti Etnei con le sue viti centenarie aggrappate ad un terreno scosceso e grigio fatto di terrazzamenti trattenuti da muretti di sassi neri è certamente uno dei luoghi che più rimane impresso nella mente del visitatore enoico. In alcuni versanti il mare s’intravede sembrando più vicino di quello che è nella realtà. Venti costanti soffiano asciugando e mitizzando i versanti del Vulcano dai quali colate laviche in alcuni punti ben visibili, sono ricoperte da pietrisco nero ed erbe spontanee, elementi distintivi di questa  montagna che, gli antichi greci, attribuivano alla dimora dei venti del dio Eolo.

Negli ultimi anni un interesse crescente ha visto molti piccoli produttori  individuare sulle pendici di uno dei più grandi vulcani dell’area del Mediterraneo una nuova frontiera per la…

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Gli articoli più letti del 2017 su Vini di Sicilia

Sono 181 gli articoli pubblicati su Vini di Sicilia quest’anno: abbiamo scritto tanto di Etna, di vignaioli, di vignaiole, di vini umani, di contrade, di speranze e di progetti.

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Abbiamo raccontato e raccolto quello che la rete aveva da dire sui vini di Sicilia, e la rete ha risposto in questo modo, apprezzando in particolare questi 10 articoli:

  1. Contrade dell’Etna 2017. Le 10 contrade scelte da VinidiSicilia
  2. Gina Russo di Cantine Russo all’interno del CdA della Strada del vino e dei sapori dell’Etna
  3. La Top10 degli Etna Rosso 2017. Nuova analisi dei dati di Wine Searcher
  4. I VinidiSicilia a cui non rinunciare: i 12 Nero d’Avola di CronachediGusto
  5. I vini umani di Salvo Foti, il vero Uomo Etneo
  6. I Vini di Sicilia premiati da “I Vini d’Italia 2018”
  7. I vignaioli di Sicilia nella Valigia di Bacco
  8. I 20 vini di Sicilia più cercati nel 2016 su Wine Searcher
  9. Sono 17 le Corone Siciliane della guida Vini Buoni d’Italia 2018
  10. Piccole Donne Crescono: Marilina e Federica Paternò

Continua a leggere “Gli articoli più letti del 2017 su Vini di Sicilia”