Carmelo Vecchio and his wife, Rosa La Guzza, did not come from afar to make wine on Etna: they are true locals, raised in the heart of the vineyards. Carmelo began working at the nearby Passopisciaro winery at a young age, and after fifteen years of hands-on experience, the time came to strike out on his own. From barely one hectare of vines up to 130 years old inherited from Rosa’s family, the couple took matters into their own hands: sustainable farming by hand, with the goal of achieving an elegant balance in the grapes; micro-vinifications in the tiny cellar beneath their home, with respect for tradition and terroir; aging the wines in used barrels before bottling without fining or filtration. While Etna still searches for its identity, Vigneti Vecchio demonstrates that this towering volcano rising from the Mediterranean can in fact produce wines as beautifully nuanced as anywhere else in Italy. Don’t miss the just-arrived 2016s, Carmelo and Rosa’s first-ever vintage in bottle.
The white Sciare Vive—named for the numerous lava flows that ruthlessly bisect the Etnean landscape—is a field blend of mainly Carricante along with other local varieties such as Minnella, Grecanico, and Catarratto. The voluptuous texture is a result of a short skin maceration, an ancient tradition for local whites, while its aroma is purely Mediterranean: smoke, resin, wild herbs, fennel, flowers, a tender touch of honey . . . Ethereal and full of grace, this sophisticated white ranks among the Mediterranean’s finest.
Nerello Mascalese, a notoriously tannic and high-acid grape, makes up the majority of the blend here. How to tame the beast? Carmelo and Rosa co-ferment it with an array of white varieties—about 10 percent of the blend—that grow among the Nerello vines, a traditional practice not unlike what was once common in Chianti or Côte-Rôtie. Add in gentle treatment in the cellar and an unfiltered bottling, and you get this delicate, silky volcanic beauty—a finely knit gem with an intoxicating perfume of cherry and the slightest trace of fuming crater.
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