Etna Bianco Superiore
For several centuries at the very least the Northern slopes of Etna have been famous for the finest red grapes of the volcano, so much so that white grapes were never planted here. However, some very specific areas of the Eastern and Southern parts of the appellation powerfully attracted me, their history, ancient and recent, testifying to undisputable viticultural qualities. In short, I became particularly interested and, later, quite fond of the smallest of the Eastern townships, that of Milo. Since the 18th century, and until perhaps a dozen years ago, only one estate bottled wine there. And it was famous for its whites. And when in 1968 the statutes of the Etna appellation were drawn out, the white wines of Milo were the only ones in the appellation deemed worthy of the epithet Superiore. In point of fact, the climate in Milo makes reds improbable, rosè very interesting, but lends itself admirably to the production of whites. The average rainfall in Milo is twice that of Northern and Southern Etna. Its exposure is mostly Eastern, often plagued by gorges, and the steepness of the terraced slopes above and below sees the sun set early behing the volcano. Moreover it is exceedingly humid, gathering the warm scirocco winds that blow directly over the sea onto its vineyards. So much so that it is not infrequent finding oneself befogged even in summer evenings. Not a climate for reds, no, and one powerfully conducive to oidium. But an extremely interesting one, if certainly challenging, for whites that appear to enjoy the cool and blustery nature of the township. Finally, last year (2019) I was able to buy a very small but very fine property. It had to have the perfect altitude: not too high for it would mean a weather too extreme; not too low for the heat would disavow the sharp austerity of the Milo “character” as I saw it after many years of vinifying sourced grapes from the township. It also must have a very good exposure to ensure consistent ripeness in such a difficult climate. The property had both. And now, after 20 years left fallow, its terraced stone walls rebuilt by hand, its terraces replanted, it will soon be ready to produce a very engaging Etna Bianco. In the meantime, finally having a property of my own, I feel I can now present you with my vision of an Etna Bianco Superiore sourced from very fine vignerons of Milo: a sharp wine, lean, severe and aristocratic, it stand sas yet another wonderful expression of Etna’s splendid diversity.