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Discover Mt. Etna's Volcanic Wines

Discover Mt. Etna's Volcanic Wines

At Eataly, we want you to get to know the food and drink that inspire us — and that includes wine! In this Eataly Magazine vino story, get to know one of the most important wines in Sicilia: Etna DOC.

WHAT IS ETNA DOC?

The largest active volcano in Europe, Mt. Etna seems like an improbable place to grow anything.

Yes, despite its fierce appearance, this large volcanic mountain in Sicilia provides very inviting conditions for grape growing. In fact, Etna is one of Italy's hottest wine producing regions right now, as evidenced by the increasing number of wine producers buying up land in the area.

So what's all the hype about?

Etna DOC wines are made exclusively with grapes grown on the outlying slopes of Mt. Etna, usually at 3,500 feet – or higher(!) – above sea level. Even though the terraced vineyards at these high altitudes are no easy feat to navigate, winemakers simply cannot resist the unique characteristics the Etna terroir offers. The hot Mediterranean sun and constant sea breeze benefit the grapevines and help extend the growing season well beyond the average duration. The range of temperatures – cool at night and hot during the day – foster berry growth and coloring, as well as promote complexity in flavor. Below ground, vine roots sit in soil that's rich in volcanic nutrients, contributing to a one-of-a-kind, complex flavor.

In other words? Mt. Etna produces excellent wines!

WHAT TYPES OF ETNA WINES ARE THERE? 

Most winemakers in the area produce Etna Rosso (red wine). To be considered DOC (need to refresh your certifications?), Etna Rosso must contain at least 80% of the thick-skinned Nerello Mascalese grape variety and 10% of Nerello Cappuccio. Blending the varieties creates balance in flavor: the Nerello Mascelese grapes gives the wine a tannic edge, while the Nerello Cappuccio contributes spicy aromas and red berry flavors. The result?  Bold, yet elegant wines with fruity undertones and a tannic punch. Etna Rosso wines can vary from light to medium bodied depending on where and how they are produced.

Even though the area is well-known for its reds, Etna Bianco (white wine) is equally as intriguing. Etna Bianco must be made with at least 60% Carricante grapes, a little-known variety that grows exclusively in the Etna region. The other 40% can vary, but all grape varieties must be native to Etna. Etna Bianchi are typically bright, crisp, and acidic with mineral undertones – perfect for spring and summer sipping!

And of course, the vino portfolio wouldn’t be complete without a little rosé! Similar to its red counterpart, Etna Rosato is made with Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio grape varieties. These pink blends offer up light, red fruit flavors and bring acidity to the palate, making them pleasant sippers for the summer months in Sicilia and beyond.

BRING IT HOME FROM OUR WINE SHOP

Across Eataly USA, we've have lined our shelves with an array of bottles from the Etna DOC region.

Find your local wine shop to discover more information about complimentary tastings, hours, and beyond. We'll cheers to that: salute!

wine-tasting-eataly-vino-flatiron

* Nota bene: For this article, we sourced our information from our very own Eataly USA Beverage Manager, Dan Amatuzzi. To dig deeper into wine, check out A First Course in Wine: From Grape to Glass.