Having just visited the Tenuta Monte Gorna winery, we weaved our way along the side of Etna to rendezvous in Milo with Maurizio Garozzo, Sales Manager of the La Gelsemina winery.
Milo in about 25 kilometres north of Catania.and was the meeting point to head to our second winery visit La Gelsomina. Milo affords great views of the Ionian Sea and if you stop off at the square pop in to the Bar and grab a delicious local delicacy – and a must try snack – Cipollini – a soft pastry filled with tomato, onion and mild cheese Bianca Conversi of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Etna D.O.C and Guglielmo, guide at Catania based tour company Excursions & Trekking pointed out that sometimes ham is also added as an ingredient.
After washing down the Cipollini with fountain water, Maurizio turned up to greet us and guide us to his winery. We were also joined by Etnawine Evangelist, Brandon Tokash and his wife and enroute we stopped to pick up the wine makers and at the winery two wine tourists from Tuscany (wine makers also) happen to be around and joined in making a group of 10.
La Gelsomina is a young winery at just 30 years old. Back in 1986 the current estate was the weathered remnants of mostly the 1928 Etna eruption with a few landslides thrown in. Now this 15 hectare estate has been landscape into a huge amphitheatre with Carricante grapes at the back, Pinot Nero in the centre circle and Moscato grapes in the stalls. The side circle seats being taken mostly up by cherry and olive trees. The stage is an artificial lake collecting the little rainfall that the Western Etna slope gets.
Wine tourism plans include renovating a shed into bedrooms for friends and guests and putting a stage over the artificial lake for music concerts and dances on those hot Sicilian summer evenings.
The winery tasting room is also interesting to visit as it hosts an old press allegedly made out of Rowan Mountain Ash (sorbo in Italian) and, being built on the side of a lava flow one can appreciate the traditional process of wine making from grape delivery and pressing to running off the must into fermentation tanks all working by gravity and without any modern-day pumps.
First up was the Rosso da Pesce ( 100% Nerello Mascalese) Attractive floral nose with very well-balanced aromas of wild strawberries and water melon. Crisp fresh fruits balanced by the acidity, which is perfectly integrated. Subtle tannins.
Second up was a possible contender to be amongst the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World, the Metodo Classico Gelsomina Brut (100% Nerello Mascalese) with just 21 months ageing on the lees. Delicate citrus nose – distinctly grapefruity with orange blossom. Crisp entrance, smooth mouthfeel. Tangy palate. Admirable finish.
Rosso della Contea (Blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio). Explosion of Smoke and sulphuric on the nose with subtle fruits of the forest and black cherry coming through the smoke. Full-bodied, bright acidity and lovely freshness, underpinned by supple tannins.
Last up and my personal favourite was the outstanding Pinot Nero 2012. The nose is full of black cherry and plum with cloves and vanilla which follow through on to the palate with nice tannins. The finish is pleasant. You just have to drink this!
If you’re planning on attending the International Wine Tourism Conference in 2017 you will have the chance to visit both Monte Gorna and Gelsomina as well as many other wineries in the Etna Wine Region.