A gem in Sicily: Etna

Carmelo Messina
March 20, 2024
5 min read

Nestled amidst the azure waters of the Mediterranean lies Sicily, a captivating island steeped in millennia of history and cultural diversity.

From ancient Phoenician settlements to Greek colonies, Norman conquests, and Italian unification, Sicily's rich tapestry of influences is mirrored in its illustrious winemaking heritage.

With a winemaking legacy spanning over 6,000 years, Sicily stands as a beacon of viticultural prowess. Traces of ancient winemaking dating back to the Neolithic era serve as a testament to the island's enduring commitment to the craft.

In centuries past, Sicilian wines garnered international renown, revered for their robust character and medicinal qualities. Red wines, in particular, found favor among northern producers seeking to fortify weaker vintages with Sicily's potent elixirs, earning them the moniker "le vin medicine."

Yet, it's in recent decades that Sicily has experienced a vinous renaissance, propelled by a new generation of innovative winemakers who have forged their own path.

Nowhere is this evolution more palpable than on the island's eastern flank, where the majestic Mount Etna looms large, casting its fiery gaze over verdant citrus groves and vine-clad slopes.

At the heart of this viticultural renaissance lies the DOC Etna, a beacon of excellence in Sicily's winemaking landscape. Here, amid the fertile soils enriched by volcanic sands and cooled by the mountain's lofty altitude, wines of unparalleled elegance and finesse are born.

The unique terroir of Etna,

characterized by its volcanic origins and dramatic diurnal temperature shifts, imbues the wines with a distinctive sense of place.

The black earth, rich in mineral deposits, lends a profound minerality to the wines, while the high-altitude vineyards, ranging from 400 to 1200 meters above sea level, ensure a prolonged growing season and optimal grape ripening.

Viticulture on Mount Etna boasts a storied history dating back to antiquity, with references to vineyards dating as far back as the 3rd century B.C. The establishment of the "Maestranza dei Vigneri" in 1435 further underscores the region's enduring commitment to winemaking excellence.

The historic "Circumetnea" railway, which once carried must and wine from nearby villages to the port of Riposto to support the island's long-standing wine trade tradition, is another example of Etna's viticultural heritage.

Among the myriad grape varieties cultivated on Etna, Carricante reigns supreme for white wines, boasting remarkable aging potential and nuanced flavors of candied citrus and almonds. Meanwhile, red wines crafted from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio grapes exude elegance and finesse, with aromas of macerated flowers, cherries, and spices.

Pair these wines with regional delicacies such as Pasta alla Norma or porcini mushroom risotto to fully appreciate their intricate flavors and unparalleled elegance.

In conclusion, Etna wines stand as a testament to Sicily's winemaking prowess, embodying the island's rich cultural heritage and geological diversity in every glass. With a roster of esteemed producers leading the charge, Etna wines are poised to captivate the palates of enthusiasts worldwide, offering a sensory journey unlike any other.

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Carmelo Messina
March 20, 2024
5 min read

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