Passopisciaro - Contrada C Chiappemacine 2016 Ml. 750
To 12 months
Volcanoes are gloomy places, and when I arrived, Mt. Etna was even gloomier because it was an abandoned volcano. Wineries lay collapsed all over its slopes; stonewalled terraces disappeared everywhere up the mountain in the bushes. There was the misery of blackened streets and ashen churches in large old towns. These were the feelings I had in the winter of 2000 when I first came to Etna. It seemed crazy to restore vineyards so high up the mountain above, it was erupting but I liked that they were planted so high.
At the top of the steep Passopisciaro property looms a hump of black gravel. It's where the lava spill from a big eruption in 1947 had stopped, caking up just before it could submerge whole terraces below it, vines, walls, and buildings: on Etna you can lose it all.
Here, it's always very cold at night, even in August. During the day in the vineyards the lava powder penetrates in the skin and you get intoxicated, tired. The first wine I made was pale and meager, and I was discouraged. I planted other grapes; whatever is planted there the wine always tastes of citrus and camphor, without that generous body that you like earth to lend right away to a wine.
There's no mold, no moss; the ground sparkles black like the night; the wine slowly becomes very elegant and strange. During the day a soft light penetrates everything and then there are starry nights; Etna has enormous poetry. Making wine, you have access to it. There isn't Mother Nature here. You are conducting your viticulture on stuff that comes out of the terrible below.
Franchetti is the top wine produced at Passopisciaro, a Super-Etnean wine of petit verdot and cesanese d'Affile from volcanic rock and ash. The grapes were planted in the early 2000s after Andrea Franchetti purchased the estate in the contrada Guardiola ? a dense planting with vines 90cm x 90cm apart, at 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level.
When he came to Etna, Franchetti imagined a wine that would be denser and more concentrated than the lighter-bodied and colored wines of the local variety. Thus, while the nerello wines are wines of place expressing their unique terroir, Franchetti is a true winemaker's wine, expressing a particular vision of the maker.
In order to create the kind of volcanic wine he envisioned, Franchetti decided to plant the late-ripening Bordeaux grape petit verdot with cuttings from St. Julien alongside the more aromatic cesanese d'Affile, a grape from Lazio that he helped to save from extinction. Due to the volcanic soil, petit verdot becomes more peppery and spicy, leaner and stiffer in body, still with great structure. Cesanese d'Affile is a gentler, aromatic counter to the petit verdot, with great aging potential.
Then he waited several years for the vines to come into their own, and in 2005, he released the first vintage of his Franchetti wine, finally able to see whether his vision could be brought to light. The result is a concentrated wine, black like the lavic soil and plumes of smoke that Etna belches forth. Franchetti himself calls it the wine that comes from an attempt to make a completely different wine on Mt. Etna, to express what my image of Aetnean wine could be like.
The blend changes each year based simply upon which grapes are the best from that vintage, wed not to any predetermined recipe, formula, or even flavor profile, following just the taste of the maker, reflection his perception of the vintage. The vines undergo a rigorous ritual of green harvesting, leaving only five bunches on the vines, and then undergo malolactic fermentation and aging in new French oak. Franchetti's distinct style is apparent throughout each wine and each vintage, year after year producing wines with a richness, a depth of flavor, and layers of complexity, which are the hallmarks of his wines.
|Ageing and Fining||18 months in oak barrels|
|Ageing||To 12 months|
|Aroma||Intense range of fruity and spicy with notes of wild berries and white pepper|
|Aroma||Fruity, Spicy, Vegetal|
|Taste||Savory, expansive and persistent|
|Serving temperature||16°-18° C.|
|Blend description||100% Chardonnay|
|Matching||Pasta with sauce, Pasta with vegetables, Roast, Red meat, Roasted red meat, Red meat stew, Grilled meat, White meat stew, Vegetables, Cured cheeses|
|Ideal with||Pasta With Vegetables, Pasta Meat, Meat Red, Meat White, Vegetables, Cured cheeses|
|Classification||Terre Siciliane IGT|