Archives for November, 2015

La Nave on Mt Etna

The latest addition to my Mount Etna wineosphere is the brilliant white wine from the winery Santa Maria La Nave: grown on the northern slopes of the mountain.

This exciting part of Sicily continues to capture and allure international writers and sommeliers. It has to be the elevation that these local indigeneous varieties enjoy. There is freshness and a joy in the mouth. Don’t miss it!

The darling white variety of recent tastes is carricante, and no Etnan white is more famous from New York to Buenos Aires than Benanti’s Pietramarina (2011) (USD 47) – grown at 1000 m in the vicinity of Milo, above Zafferana on Etna’s east side.

Benanti Pietramarina Carricante 2011

Benanti Pietramarina Carricante 2011

Other native whites like minnella are interplanted with the century-old, pre-phylloxera red vineyards. I have eaten it in Benanti’s Monte Serra vineyard, where it is harvested separately.

And Frank Cornelissen in Solicchiata uses grecanico dorato, carricante and coda di volpe in his Tartarci vineyard 1000 m pre-phylloxera blend of Munjebel Vigne Alte 2013 (USD 40). That is how the vines were planted long ago.

But my most impressive encounter is with Sonia Spardo Mulone and Riccardo Mulone’s rejuvenated plantings of grecanico dorato planted at 1100 m, by far the highest elevation for vine growing on the mountain, these on the northern-western side in Contrada Nave.


This Santa Maria La Nave Millesulmare 2014 Sicilia DOC is special in colour: it has luminosity in the glass, masses of quartz-green glints, excellent lustre of a wine with pearl shell gloss; it “winks” at you.

Santa Maria La Nave Millesulmare 2014 Sicilia DOC

Santa Maria La Nave Millesulmare 2014 Sicilia DOC

The taste works a treat; and the aromas are not overt, just muted citrus and lemon rind; subtle, no more.

The  citrus meet on the palate, and the sensation you  find is one of linearity of acidity that goes on for ever. Note the acid succulence, respond to the salivary senses and detect the peak when the lemon essence and lemon grass acid flavours start fading. Should take ten seconds.

These vines have been around for some time but Riccardo is yet to tell me how long.

Now they are being curated and carefully propagated by massal extension, using the old process of burying one unpruned cane of an old vine into the next vine space to start re-growth. Some call the process layering.

So the vineyard must have gaps from vines which have died; now they are being replaced using a very meticulous plan.

These Etna whites have shrill acidity, and slim body, generally irrespective of the variety. They are naturally minerally, merely responding to their terroir.

Another I enjoy is Planeta’s Eruzione 1614 Carricante 2014 Sicilia DOC (USD 33); a more expressive white from the use of aromatic yeast and 5% riesling, the latter another cold climate variety noted for its light body.

Planeta, a bigger Sicilian operator and regionally-aware of the greater microclimates in the Island, is a very active participant in Mount Etna viniculture. Sciara Nuova, 870 m on the northern side in Castiglione di Sicilia is the Eruzione source.

Tascante Eruzione 1614 2014

Planeta Eruzione 1614 2014

Then I recently tasted Tasca d’Almerita Tascante Buonora Carricante 2014 Sicilia DOC (USD 23); back to the muted style of the Millesulmare grecanico, gleaming green, absolutely razor acidity and a delicious texture of the green mint acid taste style; also from Castiglione di Sicilia of vines planted in 2000.

Tascante Buonora Carricante 2014

Tascante Buonora Carricante 2014

Peter Scudamore-Smith MW visited  Sonia Spado Mulone and Riccardo Malone in Milan to interview for this project; and served this Grecanico Dorato 2014 at the opening evening dinner of Uncorked and Cultivated Sicily Wine and Food Tour 2015 in Taormina. Uncorked and Cultivated Sicily Wine and Food Tour guests tasted Benanti carricante at Viagrande, Tasca d’Almerita carricante at Regaleali, and Planeta carricante at Lago Arancio in Sambuca di Sicilia.




Ferrari: flash fizz

Visitors to Italy often find themselves trapped in the well-worn sangiovese-strewn hills of Eastern Tuscany. But the Chianti wines are a product of a warm growing climate. What about cool?

I recently ventured to discover the real heart that makes the classy end of Italian sparkling wine throb. The precondition of making metodo classico – Italian speak for bollicini made the same way as their cousins do in Champagne, is a cool or cold growing environment. There is much to be excited around visiting the bubbles-making region of Trento, Italy’s northern-most.

First it has to pass the cool test. No problem there.

Now this vintage, 2015, those people in Champagne finished their harvest before the Trentians. Although Champagne is the most northerly-orientated of France’s cool regions, and reaches to 270 metres, the Trento harvest at 500m starts later. Some feat. Must be good for the bubbles base wines.

Ferrari’s most commonly encountered wine is Ferrari Brut. It has no year designation, a normal feature of gulpable bubbles. This is decidedly fresh when made for the market containing 2 year-old chardonnays.

Ferrari Trento DOC Brut

Ferrari Trento DOC Brut

Within a few minutes of meeting Ferrari’s soft-spoken chief winemaker Marcello Lunelli I was hearing graciously how this region supplies long cellar-aged, hence long-lived sparklers.

You see it’s all in the taste-that shrill acidity which sits in your mouth, ensures your first and last sensation is the tartness we call minerality. Or the acid gives a linear expression down the length of your tongue.

Ferrari Perle 2008, all chardonnay, is the goto wine to seek this minerality; zippy, citrussy, and the name sounds so charming-diamonds, glitter-in-the glass, low on sugar (4 grams) so the acid pirouettes in one swallow. It’s good. And it smells of honey sweet and white flowers: the good folks at Ferrari call it the honey aroma of the tiglio tree.

Ferrari Perle Trento DOC 2008

Ferrari Perle Trento DOC 2008

Trento is an ancient Roman town wedged between the two imposing side of the Dolomites Mountains; rugged and ugly monsters, clinging to the flood-sluiced banks of the Adige River. The vines clamber on the rocky slopes and terraces, barely planted on the narrow alluvial plains reserved for vegetables and apple crops.

Giulio Ferrari established the company in 1902 by planting chardonnay in the valley. He sold it to Trento wine merchant Bruno Lunelli in 1952 when without an heir. Subsequently Bruno bought an iconic chardonnay vineyard in 1964, releasing a hallmark wine only in seasons when the conditions smile, the first being 1972.

The current Giulio is 2004 is good, will age well until 2018; delicious, single vineyard fizz, lightly honied, high on minerality, nice gas and even nicer crisp tones of acidity. The wine the founder would drink.

For me the 1987 Giulio Ferrari, Reserve of the founder, Extra Brut (2.5 grams) smiled as I unpacked a bottle for my cellar; it was disgorged in 2011, living on its moribund yeast for 27 years.

Giulio Ferrari Trento DOC 1987

Giulio Ferrari Trento DOC 1987

WHERE TO STAY IN TRENTO: Grand Hotel Trento, Piazza Dante, 20; +39 0461 27100;; a lovely old world style hotel, great breakfasts.

EAT IN TRENTO: Osteria Le Due Spade, via Don Arcangelo Rizzi, 11,; +39 0461 234343; ; established 1545, well-known and respected, has a top sommelier, inventive plates by Massimiliano Peterlana.

Peter Scudamore-Smith MW visited Ferrari Trento privately as Uncorked and Cultivated tours and travels.





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