Tornatore Etna Bianco 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
It is in the volcanic soils of Mt. Etna where the Tornatore family has set deep, centuries old roots. The Tornatores, one the oldest wine growing families on Mt. Etna, have lived in Sicily since 1680 and trace their Etna grape growing back to 1865. That heritage and the Tornatore’s profound respect and understanding of the land is showcased in wines that capture the essence of Etna, deftly balancing concentrated flavors, complexity, freshness and refinement.
The Tornatore’s Etna roots have long grounded them in the flavors and patterns of their region, and it was this knowledge that inspired Francesco Tornatore to found his family’s winery in the town of Castiglione di Sicilia in 2010, nearly a century and a half after his great grandfather first planted vineyards on Mt. Etna.
The region benefits from Sicily’s ample sunshine, but Mt. Etna’s high elevation also provides greater rainfall, moderating breezes and cooler temperatures. Etna’s unique nature means soils, microclimates and exposures change dramatically from site to site, creating a panorama of characteristics and possibilities in the vineyards.
Tornatore blends artisan and modern winemaking to craft wines such as the Bianco and Rosso that display the full range of fruit and complex personality of Etna terroir, and single vineyard wines—Pietrarizzo with its high elevation and Trimarchisa with 40-year-old vines—that express the beauty and distinct character of their exceptional sites.
A large, geographically and climatically diverse island, just off the toe of Italy, Sicily has long been recognized for its fortified Marsala wines. But it is also a wonderful source of diverse, high quality red and white wines. Steadily increasing in popularity over the past few decades, Italy’s fourth largest wine-producing region is finally receiving the accolades it deserves and shining in today's global market.
Though most think of the climate here as simply hot and dry, variations on this sun-drenched island range from cool Mediterranean along the coastlines to more extreme in its inland zones. Of particular note are the various microclimates of Europe's largest volcano, Mount Etna, where vineyards grow on drastically steep hillsides and varying aspects to the Ionian Sea. The more noteworthy red and white Sicilian wines that come from the volcanic soils of Mount Etna include Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (reds) and Carricante (whites). All share a racy streak of minerality and, at their best, bear resemblance to their respective red and white Burgundies.
Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red variety, and is great either as single varietal bottling or in blends with other indigenous varieties or even with international ones. For example, Nero d'Avola is blended with the lighter and floral, Frappato grape, to create the elegant, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, one of the more traditional and respected Sicilian wines of the island.
Grillo and Inzolia, the grapes of Marsala, are also used to produce aromatic, crisp dry Sicilian white. Pantelleria, a subtropical island belonging to the province of Sicily, specializes in Moscato di Pantelleria, made from the variety locally known as Zibibbo.
Carricante has grown on the slopes of Sicily’s Mt. Etna for the last thousand years. It is the dominant grape in Etna Bianco DOC blends, with Catarratto as a possible minor blending partner. The best examples come from volcanic soils at higher altitudes where a large diurnal temperature shift allows slow and steady ripening and the development of Carricante’s naturally high acidity. Somm Secret—A vine variety capable of high yields if not tended to properly, Carricante gets its name from, carica, the Italian word for “load.”