Consorzio Collio 2024 (175x100)

Etna, a crisis-free success for volcano wines. Bottlings grow even in 2023

Numbers from the Consorzio Vini Etna Doc confirm the health of the area and the “Etna mania” that infects wine enthusiasts and entrepreneurs

In a Sicily that is a treasure chest of viticultural diversity, among very diverse territories and native and international grape varieties that have been the pillars of the growth of the island’s viticulture, thanks to the work of so many virtuous wineries, it is a fact that, without a doubt, the brightest diamond in this treasure chest, in recent years, has been Etna. Complicated territory with an almost mysterious, heroic charm, with its vineyards that from the slopes of the Unesco heritage volcano descend to the sea, and made great first by “historical” realities such as Cottanera, Passopisciaro di Franchetti, Graci or Girolamo Russo, Castello di Solicchiata to name but a few, and then by the arrival of all the major names in Sicilian wine, from Planeta to Donnafugata, from Tasca d’Almerita to Cusumano, without forgetting Pietradolce of the Faro family to give examples, and again with major investments from outside the Region, over the years, such as those of Angelo Gaja (who created Idda, in partnership with Graci), Oscar Farinetti (in collaboration with Tornatore) and Carlo Ferrini (with Alberelli di Giodo), passing through Piccini with Torre Mora, without forgetting Diesel patron Renzo Rosso, who took over 40% of Benanti, and the recent investment of Tommasi Family Estates in Linguaglossa, where it bought the estate (with winery) of the Bambara-De Luca family (historic Taormina hoteliers), to give a few examples among many possible. A territory, that of Etna, where the value of the vineyard (as of today, just under 1,200 hectares of vines fall under the DOC, as we also reported in the last monograph of I Quaderni di WineNews - the next one will be at the end of August - dedicated to the territory) has reached important values, with a growth of more than 57% in 15 years, according to the Uiv-Vinitaly Observatory, and the price of a hectare ranging between 125,000 to 150,000 euros, as emerged in the last edition of “Le Contrade dell’Etna”, an event invented by the late Andrea Franchetti, more than in the rest of Sicily, for a wine that is already among the few on La Place de Bordeaux (with Etna Rosso from the historic Barolo brand Giovanni Rosso).
And the success of this territory, in the midst of a market storm that sees many emblazoned appellations struggling, does not seem to be stopping. So much so that, according to numbers from the Observatory of the Consorzio di tutela dei Vini Etna Doc (Consortium for the Protection of Etna Doc Wines), headed by Francesco Cambria, bottlings of Etna Doc, in the first half of 2023, grew overall by 6.2% (over the same period 2022), for 3.5 million bottles, or 26,343 hectoliters. Data that highlight a positive hold on production, demonstrating the continuing interest in the wines of this appellation among consumers. “Data confirm the excellent reception that the market continues to reserve for the wines of our denomination”, comments Francesco Cambria, president of the Consorzio dei Vini Etna Doc. Who adds, “the first half of 2022 had been very positive and the further growth of bottled wine in the first half of 2023, despite the fact that the overall economic situation, both in our country and internationally, is always delicate, gives us great confidence and certifies the maturity achieved by our denomination”.
Looking at the individual types, the excellent performance of white wines is confirmed again this year, starting with Etna Bianco Doc (+19%) and Etna Bianco Superiore Doc (+120%), a type reserved exclusively for wines produced with grapes grown in the province of the Municipality of Milo, on the eastern slope of the volcano. “Carricante is an indigenous grape that gives rise to wines of undoubted character and energy, rich in freshness and flavor, very representative of our viticulture and increasingly loved and sought after”, the president stresses. The appellation’s most bottled type, however, remains Etna Rosso Doc, with just over 1.3 million bottles, while the growth of bottled Etna Rosso Riserva Doc is highlighted. And there continues to be great ferment on the sparkling wine front as well, which, in this first half of the year, marks a 60% growth in the white version. “The entry into production of new vineyards, planted before the suspension of new registrations to Etna Doc, certainly allows a steady growth in bottled wine, but it is mainly the market that rewards our production and influences the growth of these figures”.
For the phytosanitary state of the grapes, also on the slopes of Etna, as throughout Italy, this year there is maximum attention on the spread of downy mildew: “the weather trend on all four slopes was fairly regular until June when, as somewhat throughout Italy, we recorded heavy rains”, explains Maurizio Lunetta, director of the Consortium, “which led to difficult management for the control of downy mildew, a disease not very frequent in our latitudes. Fortunately, downy mildew spread like wildfire and did not affect the entire DOC area. At a general level, there is most likely no serious risk, but alertness is high and monitoring is continuous”.

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