If you want to make great wine: you cannot tame Etna…

Passopisciaro vineyards  in winter.
Passopisciaro vineyards in winter.

Over the last few years, I have constantly stated that ‘Each year, the interest in wines from Mount Etna continues to grow.’ This interest is global: it is from winemakers, the press and the public. It is easy to see why this is the case.

These wines are alluring, they are highly complex and they are mysterious. Each glass in each bottles shows a different side of Etna that is like a slideshow of flavours that draw you closer to the mountain. Mysterious Etna has fascinated people for thousands of years and now it is doing it to wine lovers all around the world with world class wines.

As our interest grows in the mountain, so does our knowledge of what works in regards to vineyard practices and wine making methods. What is obvious, that if you want to make great wine, you cannot tame Etna. The best wines that I have tasted as been those that focus on hands off winemaking, that allow the fruit to be expressive without the heavy stamp of man through the use of oak. The growing group of winemakers now making their mark of Etna (think Graci,  Cornelissen, Foti, Franchetti, plus more) have shown great respect to this land.

When we speak of Etna, we don’t speak of grape varieties or oak regimes, we speak of lava flows and altitudes. No where else in the world are these two factors so critical in determining the flavour profile of a wine. Each different lava flow gives the wine different flavour profiles. The same lava flow that flowed down the mountain will present different wines depending on what altitude the grapes are grown on that lava flow. Fascinating and it makes you want to learn more and more about Etna.

Finally, if you love Etna, you will also love thos vineyards that surround this great main. Hence don’t just limit yourself to Etna, some of these lava flows made it all the way to the ocean and in many seaside villages from Syracuse to Catania, the complex nature of lava, altitudes and vineyards repeasts in many different vineyards and varieties.

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