Few places can produce a white that is an island wine, a volcanic wine, and a mountain wine all at once. But when the vineyards are situated high on the slopes of Etna, the active stratovolcano that towers almost eleven thousand feet over the Mediterranean, the stage is clearly set for something special and totally unparalleled in the world of wine. Factor in ancient practices and own-rooted vines surpassing a century in age, and Etna is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating grape-growing regions on Earth. Carmelo Vecchio and Rosa La Guzza’s white captures every element of this spectacular setting, from the fresh herbal and lively citrusy notes that come from being so high up, to the subtle grit and salinity only achievable from volcanic vineyards in the middle of the sea, to the textural intrigue born from a brief skin maceration, as Etna tradition dictates. Serve it cool—not cold—and let it breathe as it slowly uncoils and brings all its intricacies to the table.
Lyle Railsback had the brilliant instinct to serve this wine in magnum at his wedding in Italy in August. It certainly did not seem out of place on the grounds of an ancient castello in western Piedmont at the height of summer. I am not shy about sharing my opinion with any of our Italian growers that the world’s best Vermentino is produced in Corsica. Yves Leccia’s magical limestone terroir of E Croce in the northern commune of Poggio d’Oletta produces one of the island’s and the world’s most magnificent examples. Always fresh and saline, with ample body and tuned-up aromatics, this is an aperitivo par excellence and works wonders with anything fresh from the sea as well.
Vigne RadaItaly | Sardinia | Vermentino di Sardegna
The combination of Catalan heritage with Italy’s rich culture of gastronomy has created a culinary paradise in Alghero, a charming old village on Sardinia’s northwest coast. In addition to simple grilled branzino and sublime pastas with bottarga or fresh mussels, trattorias here feature endemic Algherese dishes, including a local version of paella as well as lobster, a specialty of this stretch of coastline so prized that the current queen of England chose to serve it at her wedding. Alghero is also the epicenter of a wine region characterized by abundant Mediterranean sunshine, salty coastal breezes, and rocky soils of quartz and limestone. With a luscious fragrance of herbs and flowers, the crisp, lemony Vermentino from Vigne Rada is a wonderful introduction to Alghero’s bounty.
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