The Benanti family from Bologna would not have thought that one of their descendants would end up producing wine in Sicily when one of their members was sent there in 1734 by King Vittorio Amedeo d’Aosta. Etna was a volcano whose fertility made the surrounding lands extremely suited to wine production, to the point that the nearby city of Catania had reached the record of Sicilian production in the mid-1800s, even owning a school of oenology (1881) and its own wine office (1886). Such a prosperous land did not leave indifferent Giuseppe Benanti who, at the end of the 19th century, began to “make wines on the volcano”, with a passion and determination that remained unchanged and handed down from generation to generation. However, another Giuseppe Benanti in 1988 will give an official shape to this production tradition, building a winery called Tenuta di Castiglione and renamed, in 1998, simply Benanti.
The intention is from the beginning to produce wines almost exclusively from native vines such as Carricante, Minnella, Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese. To succeed in this aim, Giuseppe brings together around him a working group, a true wine dream team, which would have joined the young winemaker Sandro Foti (whose current fame is as much acclaimed as the goodness of the wines produced). The ’90s are years of experimentation and first successes, until 2007 when Gambero Rosso awards Benanti as “winery of the year”. Since then Benanti has not ceased to be a source of inspiration for those who want to produce wines on Etna with the almost 200,000 bottles a year that are consumed for 70% around the world, acting as real “ambassadors of the volcano”.
One of the last wines to be produced is the Etna Rosso Riserva Rovittello Parcella n.341 which, after several years success, took the place of the simple red Etna Rovittello, starting from 2015. As you can guess from the name, it is a wine made from a single parcel on which grow centenary vines, and for the most part As you can guess from the name, it is a wine made from a single parcel on which grow centenary vines, and for the most part pre-phylloxera, composed of Nerello Mascalese (90%) and Nerello Cappuccio (10%). The vineyards, 750 meters high, are raised with the traditional alberello system, with a planting density ranging from 9,000 to 10,000 vines per hectare and a yield that slightly exceeds half a kilo per plant: few rich and concentrated fruits. After the strictly manual harvest, and a first selection always manual, the grapes ferment at controlled temperature (25 C) with a long maceration; all by means of indigenous yeasts selected in the vineyard, isolated and reproduced in the cellar. The malolactic fermentation, in steel, is followed by the aging in barrels of 15 hl of wood, for two years, and, subsequently, that in bottle, for another year, before marketing.
The 2015 vintage, the first produced, has a delicate ruby color, with some garnet streaks, and an olfactory range that starts with notes of pot pourri, vinyl, crunchy cherry and cooked plum, followed by red currant, ripe prickly pear, orange blossom and toasted almond, with final echoes of humus, Mediterranean scrub and slight touches of wood. The palate strikes for the extreme elegance with which the softness is enriched by balsamic freshness and mineral flavor, with a silky tannin well present, and a hint of black pepper; all accompanied by the return of red fruit and spices that guide the sip up to an excellent length closing.
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