Sicilian wine adventures – Part 13; hysterically old Carricante vines is the thing.


A late ripening grape planted at 950 meters above sea level. Risky business? Not if you’re a winemaker at Mount Etna!

It’s time to start doing some writing on the indigenous green grapes of Sicily and why not stay at Etna where my palate seems to say “home, sweet home”. Carricante is synonymous with Etna and it’s mostly cultivated on higher altitudes. Low potassium content, high fixed acidity, particularly low pH and high malic acid content. Ergo, splendid prerequisites for a long life.

Before moving on, this has to be said; Carricante isn’t and will probably never be a crowd-pleaser. That doesn’t mean it’s difficult in any way; it just has the kind of characteristics that won’t attract consumers seeking easy drinking. Want an example? The 2007 Pietramarina from Benanti. A white wine that first starts delivering on the second day after uncorking! On the other hand, it’s worth the wait…

Azienda Agricola Benanti produces an Etna Superiore white, the Pietramarina. The vineyard is on the eastern side of Etna, in the commune of Milo. Carricante vines with an average of 80 years planted the alberello way. Only the Etna Bianco produced in this region may be given the title of Superiore. If someone now cares more for this than what’s in the bottle….

The 2007 Pietramarina is an extraordinary wine. But it took a day so decant way ahead. Bright yellow color with slightly green appearance. On the second day; mineral scents. Lots of them. Cool bouquet with waxy notes, some maturity, green apples, honey, smoke, fennel, almonds and herbs. Subtle notes of flowers.

On the palate it is changing character the seconds you’re tasting it. First, a bit oily and waxy, then sour apples and unripe lemons acidity before ending in a smooth finish. Quite a nice ride. Again, lots of wet rocks and almonds. The freshness is outstanding and the high-altitude fruit in the wine just awesome. Impeccable purity. Good concentration. Elegant wine that really needs an accompanying meal. Grilled sardines, a warm summer evening and this bottle please!

2007 Pietramarina, Etna Superiore, Az. Ag. Benanti, 91-92 p

Bought here.

PS. Harvested the third week in October!