Eight years after landing in Tuscany, where he established Tenuta di Trinoro, Andrea Franchetti acquired Passopisciaro ("Fisherman's Path"), an ancient vineyard and winery, on the slopes of Sicily's Mt. Etna. In the town of Castiglione, he planted 40 acres of vines on the north side of Etna, at an elevation that peaks at just over 1,000m. And while the lava-strewn slopes of Etna were a hot bed in the 1920's, it is only in the last 10 years that vintners began to reexamine the area as ripe for quality wine production.
With ancient terraces and a long ripening season that extends into November, Mt. Etna is an active volcano with mineral rich lava soil that greatly benefits the two varietals that thrive here: Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese. Embracing the latter of the two, Franchetti first released Passopisciaro, a blend of 100% Nerello Mascalese from different Contrada (or Crus).
In 2009, Andrea introduced five other wines, all from single vineyards with different terroir and elevations. By using these high elevations to reduce yields and alcohol content, Franchetti mastered Nerello Mascalese--an indigenous Sicilian grape that produces pale, lean, and delicate "northern" wines that are reminiscent of Pinot Noir.
Of the five Contrada Etna--including Rampante, Chiappemacine, Sciaranuova, Guardiola and Porcaria--that Franchetti released in 2009, all used to be blended together for the Passopisciaro wine. However, in 2008 the Passopiscario was made from a blend of pickings from Contradas Malpasso, Guardiola, Santo Spirito, and Arcuria. Light ruby in color, this is a smoky wine with lush berry fruit and a touch of spice, that finishes surprisingly lean and minerally with lingering light fruit.
Passobianco is characterized by its consistency, precision and freshness, and will continue to evolve in the bottle over time. 2016 on Etna was an excellent year, with the harvest of whites in early September. Citrusy and fruity, with hints of pear and honey, high acidity and mineral base that comes from this special place where vines are grown.
The Passopisciaro Contrada Porcaria stands apart from the other single-vineyard bottlings in its dark, sensual fruit and masculine personality. Sweet menthol, spices and minerals develop in the glass, adding further shades of nuance to this decidedly virile, dark Nerello Mascalese. The finish is rich, dense and totally convincing.
Rampante is a wine of sheer class and elegance, offering clean, precise aromas of freshly crushed bright cherries, strawberries, smoke, licorice and crushed rose petals. This light-bodied red flows around ultra-fine, silky tannins, showing impeccable balance and striking purity. Made from 100% Nerello Mascalese grown on the sandy, lava rich soils 1000mt...