This month, Jen of Vino Travels is leading the #ItalianFWT bloggers in a discussion about volcanic wines. If you are reading this early enough, feel free to join us for a live Twitter chat on Saturday, October 3rd at 8am Pacific time. Just follow the hashtag #ItalianFWT and be sure to add that to anything you tweet so we can see it.
All of these articles will be going live between Friday, October 2nd and early on Saturday, October 3rd.
- Camilla at the Culinary Adventures with Camilla features A Single-Varietal Carricante, an Etna Exclusive, & Lapsang Souchong-Braised Duck Legs.
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm declares Grapes Grown in Volcanic Soil Produce a HOT wine!!!
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator has you Meet Mt Etna’s Volcanic Wines: Sicily’s Tenuta Monte Gorna and Tenuta di Fessina with Pairings.
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest writes about Volcanic Wine in the Veneto.
- Terri at Our Good Life shares Ashes to Ashes: Volcanic Wine and Sicilian Lentil Soup.
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles offers Mount Etna – The Awesome Power of Active Volcanos, and Yes, Red Wine with Fish.
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass discusses the wines of Benanti – Capturing the Soul of Mount Etna Wine.
- Susannah at Avvinare is Exploring the Colli Berici in the Veneto.
- Cindy at Grape Experiences shares Personality, Elegance, Value: Tenuta Tascante Ghiaia Nera 2017 from Etna DOC.
- Nicole at Somm's Table is Exploring Etna with Tenuta di Fessina
- Jen, our host, at Vino Travels posts Fried Eggplant Topped with Fresh Tomatoes and Ricotta Paired with I Custodi Etna Rosso.
|Volcan Poás, Costa Rica
Thinking about Jen's prompt for this month's topic, I asked myself, "So, why would proximity to a volcanic crater influence a wine? Or does it affect the wine?" I think so. For one, volcanic soils are rich in minerals, particularly calcium, iron and magnesium; those can all contribute to a wine’s minerality. And soil is certainly a component of terroir. The concept of terroir is that the specificity of place - which includes not only the soil, but also the climate, and other aspects of the vineyard that can possibly differentiate one piece of land from another - affects the flavor profile of the wine.
But, for this post, I am going to focus on Etna where vineyards have flourished since as far back as the 6th century BC when the ancient Greeks first colonized Sicily. Still Etna wines languished in relative obscurity until Mt. Etna received DOC status in the middle of the 20th century.
Etna’s primary grape-growing zone lies on the slopes of Mount Etna at an elevation of 3500 feet or more. Steep slopes and terraced vineyards make access difficult, so most of the cultivation and harvesting of the vines is done by hand which is both challenging and pricey. But the elevation, widespread temperature fluctuations, and volcanic nutrient-rich soil, all produce deliciously complex grapes.
And that brings me to the grapes of Etna which include some indigenous varieties. Nerello Mascalese is thought to have originated in Catania and the Minella Bianca is an elongated white grape whose name is derived from minnella which means 'breast' in the local dialect. Catarratto is the most common Sicilian grape used in white wines while Nerello Cappuccio is integra in the Etna Rosso DOC blend.
The wine I found -
This wine is produced in Planeta's Feudo di Mezzo winery, which lies in between their Sciaranuova and Montelaguardia vineyards, just to the south of Passopisciaro. The more I read about Planeta, the more impressed I was. They have been involved in agriculture in Sicily for over five centuries. And they have a passion for sustainability - not as a destination, but as a direction.
Some of their wineries across the island sound truly amazing. The winery at Noto is 'invisible', built into a natural wooded slope. The winery at Capo di Milazzo is collapsible. The lightweight structure was designed to be temporary and entirely portable so as not to damage the land. The winery at Etna is what they call the Lava Winery. Built into a 16th century lava flow, it uses lava stone in its construction to be a seamless addition to the landscape.
Though this is my first experience with Carricante, I was quickly enamored. This is a weighty white wine with a distinctly savory feel. The aromas are fragrant and are reminiscent of summer flowers and stone fruit. But on the palate the wine is decidedly more tart with flavors of passionfruit and a hint of citrus. My favorite characteristics, however, are the tang of minerality and zip of saline.