If you haven’t picked up on that by now, Sicily is my most beloved region: not just for oenological reasons, but above all because it’s where I was born, lived my youth and went through my school and university studies. You should know that every time I have a nice glass of Sicilian wine, I find it contains the perfumes, the colors, the flavors, the atmosphere, the very essence of my earth. I have a love affair with Sicilian wine: a relationship that gets stronger every day. Wines born from the lands of Etna, the highest volcano in Europe, have an extra gear. And it’s not just an “empty” way of saying. Today, for example, I’m talking about a true Etnean red nectar that fascinates more and more each passing year. It is produced by the Benanti company, which has its headquarters in Viagrande (province of Catania), a small municipality on the south side of the volcano.
It was in 1988 that Giuseppe Benanti, originally a pharmacist, embraced the ancient family passion for grape cultivation, starting a detailed selection of the land of the Etna, in search of particular clones of native vines, thanks to the new oenological techniques. The study lasted five years and led to the production of unique-tasting wines, capable of recreating ancient flavors and keeping them intact over time. Giuseppe Benanti is considered the founder of modern Etnean viticulture. And if today the volcano’s wines are famous in the world, most of the merit goes to Giuseppe Benanti, OMRI and his sons Antonio and Salvino.
But my favorite wine is this: the Etna Red DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin) Rovittello. The most recently tasted vintage, 2013, really excited me. The wine originates from Nerello Mascalese grapes 90% and Nerello Cappuccio 10%. The rows are cultivated with the Etna system, at an altitude of 750 meters, on volcanic soil with lava sands mixed with stones. Vineyards are largely centenarian and ungrafted, with exposure to the North, in contrada Dafara Galluzzo, district of Castiglione di Sicilia.
My tasting notes. The nose immediately senses the mineral component, the flint, the very essence of the volcano, mixed with black pepper, spices (even aromatic), graphite, and a note of iodine that betrays the closeness of sea and mountain. A lively, fresh taste, that leaves a beautiful iron note in the mouth, almost hematic. Tannins are present, but they’re very fine and classy. It is a wine that combines elegance and depth of aroma, minerality and freshness at the same time. It is an Oscar-worthy red.
Some technical data on winemaking. Manual harvesting, between the end of September and the beginning of October. Complete distillation and pressing, alcoholic fermentation in temperature controlled steel, with long maceration using native yeasts selected by the company after a lengthy experimentation phase. Malolactic fermentation in steel. Maturation and aging. Approximately 18 months in 15 and 25 hectolitre French oak barrels, medium toasting and fine grain. Subsequent refinement in steel, wine filtration and then further refining in the bottle for about 9-12 months. The first vintage produced is 1990. Only 6,500 bottles produced. It is clear that in addition to 2013, many other earlier Rovittello vintages are excellent.
Retail price: € 40 – $ 48 My Rating 92/100