Tasting Wines with Roberto Henriquez from Itata and Bio Bio
Tasting Wine at Pianogrillo in Chiaramonte Gulfi Sicily

Revisit to Etna

My solo running trip to Etna 3 and a half years ago to Etna was a life changing experience.  It was incredible but it was also over whelming so I've wanted to go back and see Etna again.  I've also seen a lot of new wines and producers come out of Etna since then, so it really felt important to get back for several reasons.

So now I'm staging to get to the airport at 4 am and board an early flight to Rome and then JFK and on to Portland.  I visited 7 wineries and spent almost a week on Etna plus a couple days down near Noto and Chiaramonte Gulfi in Sicily.  I'll be putting up posts about all the individual producers in quick succession, but here's a broad reaction to what I just saw and experienced.

Sicily has taken some big steps in making serious wine and establishing recognized wine regions and types.  Etna is the hulking volcano that you see from everywhere but there's a lot happening down south and out west too.  


My first stop was up in Milo on the slopes of Etna.  Milo is totally different from what we think of as Etna because it face the sea and you can feel it in the air.  It's much more influenced by the Mediterranean.  I visited Simone Foti and had a great time talking about their particular micro climate and how they only grow white grapes here.  The top of the vineyard is just over 900m.  Simone's father, Salvo, has been making wine around on the north slope of Etna in Randazzo for years but recently bought this property after buying grapes here for years.

20191107_174204Simone pointing out Cataratto and Minella in their vineyards.

Down South and Lamoresca


On the drive I stopped to take a picture of this old Fiat.  An older man in coveralls came out of the house and motioned me to follow him


Turns out he had a shop building Fiat race cars and machines his own high performance parts



Individual throttle bodies and carburetors on a Fiat 600!


The name of his company is La Spina.  It's cast into that sick rear oil cooler on his personal Fiat 695 Biposto race car.  It had a sequential 6 speed transmission.  Which is pretty insane.

Anyway, then I got back to wine:


Then I went down south and visited Filippo Rizzo at Lamoresca, a domaine he built from scratch after buying olive trees and empty land back in 2005.  This is sand and clay here.  The grape varieties are Frappato and Nero d'Avola (and he grows a bit of Vermentino too).


Filippo had just bought this hill of decayed Sandstone and is so so pumped to clean it up, re build the abandoned house, plant more olives, plant more vines, and on and on.  He's a super excited positive guy.  His Frappato is almost unbelievably beautiful but he was more focused on Nero d'Avola partially to be a contrarian.  The Nero was also brilliant and reminded me of great Morgon.

It is a really unique geologic feature and now Filippo has over 20 hectares has farming.  Most isn't vines.


Lorenzo and I at Pianogrillo in Chiaramonte Gulfi.  Lorenzo's family has owned this estate for a very very very long time. This is Frappato country down near Vittoria


In between the olive trees you can see some of Lorenzo's Grillo vines.  Notice the soil is pretty white because of all the limestone here

Lorenzo's winery


In case you needed a reminder of how crazy Sicily is, heres a cabinet or Greek and Phoenician artifacts Lorenzo's family has found in the fields over the years






Look at that guy throwing up from too much wine!  I love the subject matter of ancient Greek ceramics

And that guy is riding a dolphin!


Lorenzo's family chapel


A traditional Sicilian marriage cart that's been in Lorenzo's family




Then I went to Etna...


Tons of new construction in Linguaglossa

It doesn't really seem like a problem, but Etna has developed a lot as a tourist destination and a wine region


I made it to Cave Ox.  A wine bar with a few rooms for rent.  Convenient 


Classic wild overgrown abandoned building on Etna

Land Frank has bought adjacent to the Rampante Contrada.  He's planning to plant some of the ridge tops but also mix in chestnut trees



This house/palazzino across the street from Frank's looks empty.  I wonder what it would cost....


A new custom barrel for in the destemmer that Frank had made to be more gentle on the grapes.


Fermenting Nerello


The vineyard Magma comes from


A fuzzy shot of Vincenzo, manager at Passopisciaro 


Eduardo the one man show that is Versante Nord.  An awesome guy and talented wine maker doing things right.  Guys like him are what Etna needs to keep moving in the right direction 

Rainbow over the 120 year old vines of Passopisciaro in Contrada Guardiola 


SRC's new winery


Very densely planted Nerello at SRC.  SRC  is another small new natural winery that's making some really authentic and elegant wines from several different Contrada they have vines in.  They're making a little less than 2000 cases per year but they certainly have room to grow in this winery.  


A small basket press at SRC.  they also have a serious brand new pneumatic bladder press.  



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Robert Rossi

Fantastic photos all around, but the most fascinating of all are the photos of the Greek and Phoenician artifacts.

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