Trinoro Passopisciaro 2005

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Today we have another peak at some of the fascinating wines being made in Sicily’s still active volcano Mount Etna. While we don’t yet have access to many of the smaller producers from Etna, this wine from Andrea Franchetti, a semi-modernist, is yet true to the land and the spirit of Etna. While Andrea Franchetti makes most of his wines in both Tuscany and Etna from French grapes, particularly Petite Verdot, this wine is made from 100% Nerello Mascalese, the most important indigenous grape growing on Etna. The vines are 60-100 years old, and the wine has tremendous character as a result.

Soils and Blending

Despite its relatively long history of grape growing, Etna wasn’t much of a watchword in the wine world until 2001 when Franchetti decided to plant grapes in this region. His efforts had a significant impact and impressed the international press to a such a degree that wineries have started popping up consistently ever since. But not all are made equal

Passopiscioaro’s vineyards are on the north side of Etna near the town of Castiglione di Sicilia at 1000m above sea level. There are several kinds of soil on Etna including black volcanic rich soils and whiter ash soils. Etna also has several ‘Crus’ known as Contradas, each of which are on a different lava flow (how awesome is that?!) and thus have completely different mineral compositions. Franchetti blends together grapes grown in several different Contradas for this wine, depending on the vintage conditions. This makes sense given his love of and training in Bordeaux, a region heavily focused on blending.

An Intellectually Compelling Wine

This wine is both fascinating and delicious. There is a modern strawberry spice and bright cherry element in this quite tannic and rich wine. There is good cleanliness and dimensionality here but the wine is still tight and needs more age or decanting.

Upon tasting the wine has an intense tarry element and a savory finish. This is certainly balanced but it is also taught and very muscular. This is an incredibly unique wine that needs time to fully come into its own, but I love its earthy, mineral, tar components but Burgundy-like weight: an intellectually fascinating wine no doubt.

There is real terroir in this wine, not unlike Burgundy, and a proper decant let this express itself as the fully developed and utterly complex and compelling wine that it is. Fundamentally different from the other Etna wines I’ve had, and absolutely worth seeking out for anyone looking for something special.

Excellent
$75 at Kits Wine

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