It is widely understood that the relationship between grape variety, geology, soil and microclimates contribute to the making of wines that speak clearly of a specific region. In the case of Etna (Sicily) we can find a myriad of terroirs within the same DOC and this is largely a result of when Mongebello erupted and which way the lava flowed or which way the wind blew the ash. Terroir therefore, speaks loudly when it comes to DOC Etna Wines as volcanic soils and topography vary considerably from one km to the next as you travel around the u shaped DOC Etna region.
With the recent announcement that the region of Catania will host the 9th annual edition of the International Wine Tourism Conference, Exhibition & Workshop (IWINETC) in 2017, we tripped over to Sicily to discover part of the DOC Etna region visiting a couple of wineries.
We were fortunate to have with us Bianca Conversi of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Etna D.O.C and Guglielmo, guide at Catania based tour company Excursions & Trekking as wineries on Etna tend to be tricky to find. First up was a visit to the South East side of Etna to the Càrpene district and the Tenuta Monte Gorna winery at 760 metres, a family run boutique producer working with 4 hectares of indigenous grape varieties – Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio (reds) and Carricante and Catarratto (whites) wedged between two inactive craters named Mount Gorna and Mount LLice with Etna looming over.
Tenuta Monte Gorna, a member of the Strada dei Vini dell’Etna is open for visits and tastings (appointment only) and is well worth a visit for wine lovers wishing to begin to understand the varying terroirs of Etna. Perhaps the first thing you will notice about Gorna’s vineyards like many others in the DOC is that they are fenced off and this is to keep hungry bunnies at bay. Also staring you in the eye is the lush vegetation and oak and chestnut forests surrounding the dry stoned wall terraces which are necessary to keep the soil from sliding off down Etna`s Southeast slope. Owner Rosario Licciardello told us “Thanks to high day time temperatures and low ones at night plus winds from the Mediterranean Sea it is easy to have healthy grapes free of disease” With such favourable conditions to produce organic grapes from organic vines, Gorna will soon be adding the official seal of certified organic wines to their labels.
Tenuta Monte Gorna currently produces 3 wines and these are as follows:
Quite a powerful bouquet of citrus notes with hints of fennel. Crisp entrance with good weight of fruit on the palate which has vigour and minerality behind it. A fine persistent finish.
Monte Gorna Etna Rosso DOC 2012 (80% Nerello Mascalese & 20% Nerello Cappuccio)
Lovely intense and complex “black” nose of blackberry, plum, cherry and liquorice. Stunning fruity entrance with mild tannins on the palate and the pleasant medium finish.
Monte Gorna Etna Rosso 2012 (80% Nerello Mascalese & 20% Nerello Cappuccio with 30% of this blend aged in French Oak 225 litre barrels for 3-6 months)
Complex nose of fruits of the forest, cloves and jammy notes. Fruity palate gives way to a lingering tannic finish.
Tenuta Gorna is also making Jellies with Carricante and Catarratto grapes and apparently pair well with cheeses such as teleggio buffalo and mozzarella though we did not get the chance to try out the pairing suggestions or the jellies! :).
Second up was a visit to the La Gelsomina estate and winery but this will be featured in a separate article. On the way to La Gelsomina we stopped off at Barone di Villagrande Winery & Resort on the Eastern slope where Marco Asmundo proudly showed us his Carricante vineyards used to make Etna’s top white: Etna Bianco Superiore. Barone di Villagrande’s terroir is unique not only because of the varied lava flows but also because the layers of different lava flows have all been mixed up into one unique and special terroir due to the occurrence of several landslides and other shifts caused by earthquakes.
Discover Etna and Sicily as a grape escape destination at the 9TH Edition of the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) 2017. You won’t be disappointed!