Region: Etna, Italy
Grape: Nerello Mascalese
First Glance: high toned, ethereal, herbal spice, assertive tannins
Acclaim: 96 points
One of Europe's largest and most active volcanos, Mt Etna stands 3000 metres tall in the north-eastern corner of Sicily, in the heart of the Mediterranean sea. While viticulture on this unique site goes back thousands of years, it would lay dormant in the minds of the international wine community until a new generation came in, and revitalised excitement for this most unique place. One such evocative winemaker was Andrea Franchetti, the man behind Passopisciaro (and famed Tenuta Trinoro in Tuscany). Andrea came to Etna in 2000, and found incredible potential in plots (contradas) of 70 - 100 year old bush vines of Nerello Mascalese, planted at altitudes of 500 - 1000 metres altitude, on the Northern side of the volcano. Along with a small group of modern pioneers, this work has truly caught the imagination of the world, and has boosted Etna wines to true cult status in recent years.
Contrada Rampante sits at 1000m and is the highest cru of the estate. This is an ancient contrada producing one of the volcano’s finest, most aromatic wines because of the sandy character that the lava has acquired. Like the others, it sees only larger-format neutral oak and no filtration before bottling.
96 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
The coolest, highest site, and what a place to visit. Bright, cranberry and strawberry, white pepper, blood orange and peel, all the spice, smoke and perfume, and while it’s marginal in terms of ripeness, it does shine brightly and manages to pull it off. It’s feathery and fresh, barely there, but has presence. White pepper dusted tannin, mineral water acidity, and has a delicate but long finish. You have to enjoy detail, and lightness of touch, but for me this is a beautiful wine of vigour, verve, and distinct personality. 2022-2031+