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Italy. Sicily. Etna.

Updated: Nov 27, 2022

View of volcanic mount Etna, Sicily © Cantine di Nessuno

Wine region description

Etna wines, wines produced in the territory of Etna volcano in eastern Sicily, can be white, red, and Rosato. The main grape for the white is Carricante, and the main grape variety for the red is Nerello Mascalese. Etna area of production lays within Catania province, and it comprises 20 municipalities whose territories are on the slopes of this volcano. Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe (3,300 m), it is a conic mountain with a diameter of about 180 km (112 miles). The viticultural area is on the median belt. The whole area is somehow peculiar and considered like an “island within the island”. Volcanic soils have great reputation in agriculture, and viticulture is between 300 and 900 m above sea level, with peaks up to 1,100 m. The climate is Mediterranean-temperate, with average yearly rainfalls decidedly superior to the rest of the island; temperature excursions are wide, and rarely temperatures are extremely high in summer months.

Catania province and Etna municipalities are the cradle of the most ancient Sicilian agricultural civilization; this part of the island was the first to be colonized by the Greeks (729 B.C.) and likely the contact with wine and vines started then. Certainly, on the III century B.C. vines were cultivated on the Etna slopes, as recorded in writings of Greek poet Theocritus of Syracuse. The viticultural area during so many centuries endured some changings, generally tracing down to three factors: human events, volcanic eruptions, and phylloxera (first part of XX century). The current wine area determination has been one of the first to be recognized in Sicily and one of the oldest in Italy, dating back August 1968. Nerello Mascalese red grape variety is eminently typical of this area, taking its name from the county of Mascali and being cultivated there since time immemorial. The Carricante white grape perform exceptionally well on greater heights, and it is characterized by high and constant yields. The typical “Terrazze” (terraces), which are part of the viticultural working environment, co-participate along with nature to the making of Etna terroir, by influencing the degree in which soil retains water, and protecting biodiversity, and providing unique panorama and cultural-historical identity to the territory.

All these characteristics are greatly responsible for the evident and peculiar tastes of the Etna wines, which are balanced, pleasant, harmonious, characteristic, and elegant.

The Etna area is indeed particularly suited for quality winemaking, and wines produced here have a marked minerality on taste, which is also good for longevity. The climate, greatly influenced by volcanic heights, ensure the best maturation of the grapes and the complete synthesis of their aromatic bouquet. This viticultural area is the latest in Sicily to complete natural maturation, meaning more time and resources for the vine to its growth. The millenarian viticultural history of this territory, in which people are training vines since time immemorial, closely links today’s human activity to Etna wine qualities.

Wine descriptions

ETNA BIANCO colour is straw yellow with some golden hues; its perfume is delicate and characteristic; its taste is dry, fresh, and harmonious. ETNA ROSSO colour is ruby red with some garnet red hues; its perfume is intense and characteristic; its taste is dry, warm, robust, full, and harmonious. ETNA ROSATO colour is pink leaning towards ruby; its perfume is intense and characteristic; its taste is dry and harmonious. The minimum alcohol content for the E. Bianco is 11.5% vol. and it is 12.5% for the E. Rosso and Rosato. On the label each bottle may present the name of the administrative unit in which the vineyards are trained (“contrade”); it is mandatory on label the vintage of production, and the glass bottle is the only container that can be used, and the only stopper permitted is the one that goes all through the bottle neck.

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