A Guide to Best Etna Wines
The island of Sicily is the largest of the Mediterranean sea; tourism and agriculture are vital for its GDP. Mount Etna plays a crucial role in both these sectors of the Sicilian economy. This volcano, the highest and most active of the European continent attracts thousands of Holidaymakers willing to climb the 3340 meters high summit; simultaneously, the frequent eruptions deliver plenty of rich mineral ashes to the fields, and cultivations creating a very fertile soil. In the last few decades, a new generation of Sicilians wine producers has used the super fertile soils at Mount Etna's flank to produce some of Italy's most exciting wine. The productions of excellent wines on the volcano slopes, combined with the possibility to do some tasting have created a new exciting niche in the travel industry, boosting Sicilian winery revenues and exporting the quality of the Sicilian wines beyond the borders of Italy. The indigenous grapes from which red wines are produced on Mount Etna are "Nerello Mascalese" and "Nerello Capuccio". The white wine comes from the "Caricante" and "Cataratto" grapes. Some international grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon are also cultivated in some of the vineyards around the volcano. With 180 wineries spread around Mount Etna's slopes, it is not easy for anybody to find the best ones. So if you are keen to find out the top seven wineries of Mount Etna keep on reading.
1 Gambino Winery
The Gambino family's welcoming spirit, their vineyards, and their wines' quality have made this local winery an institution and the top choice for whoever wants to taste some of the best etna wines. The Gambino's winery is located at 900 meters above sea level on the territory of the town of Linguaglossa on the northeast slopes of the volcano. The maniacal search for the best-growing methods of Maria Grazia, Filadelfo, and Francesco Raciti- Gambino the three brothers running the family business has led this winery to develop a series of both red and white wines of high quality and complex structure. We found that the "Tifeo Rosso" among their red wines is phenomenal. It has a red delicate ruby color, light aroma of forest floor, tobacco, spices, and leather, balanced by freshness and rich mineral notes. While the "Tifeo Bianco" as white wine is fresh, crisp, full, and persuasive to the nose, this refreshing white wine is dominated by the aroma of flowers and subtle undertones of lemons that reflect the rich mineral soil upon he grows. The Gambino's winery offers the possibility to choose different wine tasting experiences, accompanied by some excellent food and an informal but highly prepared sommelier. The view of the sea and the green hills from the winery it's simply breathtaking. We have chosen the full experience, five wines, and a three-course meal, and at the end an extensive guided tour to the wine cellar where Filadelfo explained to us the secret of the winemaking and what it takes to produce some excellent wine. The Gambino's have two stores, one online with a fantastic website, and another one at the winery. They do shipping all over the world.
2 Murgo Scamacca Del Murgo.
This Aristocratic Sicilian Family has a long history of winemaking. Their beautiful mansion is located on the east slopes of Mount Etna. Even though their white and red wines are of high quality, we found that their search and investment of the last years to produce a bubbly white wine as they paid all their efforts. Their "Murgo Brut spumante Classico" surprised us for the freshness, the exciting texture, and the complex structure. The Murgo Family offers the possibility to enjoy wine and food tasting at their elegant mansion. We place this beautiful winery takes the top spot for its high-quality sparkling wine. The Murgo family offers the possibility to do some shopping both online or directly at the winery.
3 Monaci delle Terre nere
Monaci is the wine resort wanted by Guido Coffa, entrepreneur and wine producer with a Gattopardian way. Monaci Delle Terre Nere resort preserves this place's historical and territorial identity once chosen by the monks of the order of Sant'Anna as their home. The 24-hectare estate is characterized by wide tree-lined avenues, meadows, vineyards, and an infinity pool overlooking the Sicilian countryside that unfolds between Etna and the Mediterranean. The rooms are furnished with designer pieces that blend harmoniously with the material details of lava stone. The kitchen brigade of the Nerello restaurant can count on fresh products, mostly zero km, from the organic farm. A Tip for wine-lovers: ask for Guido Coffa's U Ranaci wine produced from Grenace grapes, a vine brought by the French to Etna a few centuries ago.
4 Andrea Franchetti.
Andrea Franchetti is not Sicilian but has a long history of winemaking in Toscany and has unlimited love for Mount Etna's territory. Andrea Leads to two very different wine projects. The first was created from scratch at Tenuta di Trinoro, in a remote area of the south of Tuscany. Although arduous and demanding, this project was joined shortly after by a second, of equal importance, on Mount Etna's slopes, which saw the recovery of old abandoned vineyards on the secular terraces of the active Sicilian volcano. Both projects stand out for their extraordinary complexity. Franchetti derives a rich and diversified wine portfolio from both projects. Each wine expresses the characteristics of the vintage, the specificities of the territory, and the full potential of the variety used. Our best choice for Frachetti goes to his red wine "Franchetti IGT 2017". This wine does not come cheap but every drop touching the palate is sublime. They do organize wine tasting just upon request. They have a store online.
A Proud local family runs this winery on the est slopes of Mount Etna. The Cottanera winery's excellent wines result from a father and his three kids all devoted to creating an innovative viticulture garrison on Etna that aims at quality and can translate the voice of the territory into wine, enhancing the differences that each district gives to the grapes. Not far from Castiglione di Sicilia and geographically inside the Alcantara's great and fertile valley, Cottanera produces some exquisite wines, both red and white. The view from their mansion on the extinct volcano of Mojo Alcantara; and the hills enclosing the valley is enchanting. Our favorite wine produced by this 60 years old winery is the Rosè "Etna Rosato Cottanera" which stands out for its floral notes of iris, wisteria, and roses, accompanied by the freshness of aromatic herbs. A rich, deep wine of great flavor that collects the volcanic soil's typical characteristics within itself. Unfortunately, this winery is starting just now, to offer wine tastings while they do not have an online shop. Still, their good wines are sold to many restaurants in Taormina and along the Alcantara Valley.
6 Terrazze dell Etna
The terraced amphitheater of this winery on the north flank of Mt.Etna collects the native vines of Etna: Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, and Carricante, including other international varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Petit Verdot. Nerello Mascalese is the main grape of the company, a red thread that binds the entire production. The old saplings over the age of 60 give life to Cirneco: Etna Rosso whose name is a tribute to the native hunting dog. From the youngest vines come the Caruso, a young Etna Doc that traces Etna reds' history in a modern key, the Rosato Etna Doc with rosy nuances, and finally the Ciuri, an elegant and unique wine, born from the white vinification of Nerello Mascalese. From the Carricante vineyards, the Cinniri (Ash) is produced, a Bianco Etna DOC that, as the name itself indicates, brings the volcano's typical flavors into the glass. The international vines give life to four Classic Method Sparkling Wines (two that stay 36 months on the lees and two that remain 50 months) Cuvèe Brut a blanc de blanc from Chardonnay grapes, Rosè Brut a blend of Pinot Noir and Nerello Mascalese, Cratere, a red that binds Petit Verdot to the native Nerello Mascalese, and Pinot Noir, a tribute to the father of vines.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Giuseppe Benanti, great-grandfather of Antonio and Salvino Benanti, the company's current owners, started producing wines on an ancient farm on the slopes of Etna. Benanti wines have a strong personality that reflects the characteristics of Etna's soil. The owned 18 hectares vineyards are located on all Etna wine district, from north to south. Among the rows, in addition to the Caricante and Nerello Mascalese, we also meet other varieties, such as Nerello cappuccio. Some plants reach 110 years of age. We tried Benati's Contrada Gafara Galluzzo Etna Rosso, a superb red wine produced from young plants of Nerello Mascalese grown in a humid, rainy, and at times snowy climate.