I’m crazy for bottles from Sicily and especially Mount Etna wines. The reds are primarily made from the Nerello Mascalese grape; the white wines are mostly Carricante. Tasting these wines (and even some rosé and sparkling!) while on Vulcano Island attending “Sicilia en Primeur” as a media guest last year was one of many vinous highlights. When I returned I contacted Michele Faro of Pietradolce, whose wines I very much enjoyed there, with some follow-up questions.
(I’d also like to add that I love the wine labels. Definitely label-lust inducing.)
JF: What makes the vineyards of Mount Etna distinct from other parts of Sicily when it comes to terrain and climate for growing grapes?
MF: “Etna is a really different terroir compared to the other areas of Sicily. Etna is an ‘island in the island’ because we are on the mountain (about 900m above sea level). We have wonderful volcanic soil, we have big temperature [differences] between night and day, and we have a lot of…different valleys and difference ‘contrade’ (cru).
“We really work in an extreme area; you cannot think to produce wine on Mount Etna without a huge passion for this terroir. I was born in this area; my grandfather was a small producer of wines from Etna. That’s why I have this passion in my blood.”
Check out some of photos from my trip. Including active volcanoes, Prohibition-era Marsala bottles, and stupendous sunsets.
Curious about the history of Sicily and its wines? Listen to my podcast with Frances di Savino and Bill Nesto MW, authors of “The World of Sicilian Wine”: