Allegrini 2024

“Le Contrade dell’Etna”: the “en primeur” of the most “volcanic” wines of the moment

The preview, devised by Andrea Franchetti, one of the most enlightened and nonconformist producers, is back on the volcano

Etna is now regarded as one of the “diamonds” of Sicilian and Italian wine. Made up of a thousand facets, represented by the Contrade, all close but distinct. Told in the glass by Nerello Mascalese and Carricante, with cellars that make the most of the 1,300 hectares of vineyards in the most suitable areas, an expression of a quality that comes from the courage of producers who give life to a “superheroic” viticulture, with climbing vineyards on terraces and “clearings” made up of chestnut, walnut and hazelnut groves, and which tell of incredible natural biodiversity, fueled by the vitality of the highest active volcano in Europe, and a territory of wine on the crest of the wave in the world. A success, that for the most “volcanic” wines of the moment, can well be measured with that of “Le Contrade dell’Etna”, the “en primeur” created by Andrea Franchetti, one of the most enlightened and nonconformist Italian wine producers, capable of creating two iconic Estates between the Val d’Orcia, a Unesco World Heritage Site, with the Trinoro Estate, and Etna, with Passopisciaro, which returns from tomorrow to April 17 in the Picciolo Etna Golf Resort, in Rovittello in Castiglione di Sicilia.
The most important event on Etna, “Le Contrade dell’Etna”, with edition no. 14, dedicated to wine lovers (April 16) and insiders, features as many as 100 of the most famous wineries of the volcano, Sicily and Italy, from Alberelli di Giodo to Alta Mora Cusumano, from Baglio di Pianetto to Benanti, from Cottanera to Donnafugata, from Girolamo Russo to Graci, from Maugeri to Passopisciaro Vini Franchetti, from Pietradolce to Planeta, from Tasca d’Almerita to the Fessina estate, from the Bosco estates to Terrazze dell’Etna and Torre Mora, to name just a few. And tomorrow, for the first time, there will be a study dedicated to the value of local wines, entrusted to the University of Palermo with authority in the field of Business Economics such as professor Sebastiano Torcivia, alongside masterclasses on volcanic wines and tastings by specialized journalists for “en primeur wines”.
A unique territory in the world, Etna, which since the end of the nineties of the twentieth century, has seen a surge of productivity and professionalism, and a great flowering of wineries and new cellars, new vineyards, and new wines, as well as numerous awards from international critics, thanks to the investments of pioneering companies, of the historical producers of Sicily who have estates and vineyards here, and to the arrival of vignerons and entrepreneurs from outside - from Angelo Gaja to Oscar Farinetti, among others - glimpsing a new “El Dorado” of wine where one hectare of the vineyard is worth from 125,000 to 150,000 euros, 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 where Andrea Franchetti, former owner of the Tuscan Tenuta di Trinoro, was one of the first producers to arrive at the turn of the century, becoming one of the most significant exponents of the “Etna Renaissance" from the Passopisciaro vineyards. We can attribute to him the “authorship” of the rediscovery of the “Contrade” in wine terms, that is, what are now commonly referred to as “Cru”, which form the highly articulated mosaic of the volcano’s vineyards, realizing their incalculable value. But also of ancient semi-abandoned sapling vineyards, all between 70 and 100 years old, on the volcano’s northern slope, at altitudes ranging from 550 to 1,000 meters above sea level. A territory that continues to grow and experiment, thanks to stories such as that of Carlo Ferrini and his daughter Bianca in the vineyards of Alberelli di Giodo, an Etna wine project of the Ferrini family that complements that of Montalcino. A precise choice that likely brings together two of Italy’s most intriguing wine regions, both animated by two very specific protagonists, Nerello Mascalese and Sangiovese, vines with strong character capable of giving life to equally original and recognizable wines. The Ferrini family’s Etna vineyard consists of about two hectares divided into several small plots, primarily old sapling plants, even pre-phylloxera and thus ungrafted between 80 and 100 years of age, located between 900 and 1000 meters above sea level on the volcano’s north side.
A territory, Etna, which aims to become one of the myths of world enology. After all, if there is a symbolic place in mythology it is precisely this volcano, mentioned by the greatest poets and writers, from Pindar to Ovid, from Hesiod to Aeschylus, from Euripides to Homer, from Virgil to Petrarch, from Goethe to Dumas, from Verga to Pirandello, as a prison of the winds, the abode of the Cyclopes, as the Tartarus of the dead, King Arthur’s refuge, the background of the legend of Acis and Galatea, and, as the cave of Polyphemus met by Ulysses in the Odyssey, but also a source of inspiration for the masters of cinema, from Luchino Visconti to Pier Paolo Pasolini, from Franco Zeffirelli to Roberto Rossellini, without forgetting Giuseppe Tornatore, a master of photography like Vittorio Storaro and one of the greatest Italian songwriters like Franco Battiato who passed on the magic to us of the Etna landscape, as its great wines do today.

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