Sicily Part 3 – Etna with The Etna Wine Lab

This is part 3 of a 3 part post of my favorite memories from my last trip to Sicily. You’ll find Part 2 here.20140515-ivignerietna2

We sped off leaving I Vigneri in the distance…two more vineyards to visit. I was floating on cloud 9…for the rest of the day I watched my family digest a small piece of Etna. While we wandered amongst the alberello vines in the morning, the afternoon brought us indoors to the retired wine making facilities of Feudo Vagliasindi and the modern tasting room at Planeta. A complete contrast to I Vigneri, Feudo Vagliasindi is a hotel and farm that produces organic Etna Rosso wine and olive oil. FeudoVagliasindi2Feudo Vagliasindi is also home to a palmento, a traditional stone structure where wine was made, it often has an area for foot pressing of the grapes, permanent stone containers and barrels for aging. With the arrival of modern wine making technology and strict hygienic standards, the use of palmenti is banned by European law. Although no longer in use many of these buildings still exist in Sicily. Valeria explained in simple terms how it was utilized. Harvested grapes were transported quickly from the vineyards and were carried in through the windows beside the basket press (pictured below).


All eyes moved from the press to the wooden beam and enormous screw hovering above us. The screw would have rotated the stone block pressing every last precious drop of juice from the grape skins. No room for waste.


In the adjacent room 100+ liter chestnut barrels that date back to the 19th century stand. They too played an important role in the palmento. After grapes were crushed the juice flowed first to stone tanks to ferment and then to this level where it was transferred to the chestnut barrels.


After our historic wine making lesson, we tasted Feudo Vagliasindi’s Etna Rosso 2012. It had nice acidity, red-fruit flavors and expressive tannins, a straightforward wine. I look forward to tasting it in a few years time. FeudoVagliasindiOur last visit was at Planeta, a new comer to Etna but no stranger to Sicilian wine production. The Hospitality Manager, Vera Russo greeted us warmly. As we toured Planeta’s state of the art facilities, Vera explained the modern wine making process giving us a chance to compare and contrast how wine was made in the palmento and how it is made today at Planeta. Planeta’s renovated palmento serves as a showroom for the complete line of Planeta’s wine.


We tasted two wines from Etna and 3 others. Vera described each wine to the group and answered all of our questions. I was most interested in tasting Eruzione 1614 Carricante and Eruzione 1614 Nerello Mascalese. The wines spoke of a tame Etna, easy drinking and clean. Everyone at the table enjoyed the tasting.


The tour was perfect for our group. It combined history, food and wine tastings, the people behind the wine, trends and most importantly we had a blast!

Are you an Etna wine lover like me? Do you have a favorite Etna wine?

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