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Andrea Franchetti arrived on Mt. Etna in 2000 as one of the first of the modern wave of producers arriving on the volcano. There he found seventy to one hundred year-old, bush-trained vines across the northern side of the volcano across a variety of optimal sites between 550 and 1,000 meters (1,800 to 3,300 feet) above sea level. The grapes are taken from various contrade (crus) of Malpasso, Guardiola, Santo Spirito, Favazza and Arcuria; generally, the higher crus are on a more gravelly soil, the lower ones in a deeper powder made with more oxidized, older lavas.

Viticulture on Mount Etna has extremely ancient origins and winemaking in the region is now experiencing a phase of renaissance. The wines are made with nerello mascalese, the grape that grows all over the mountain, and there only. It is grown in many different mixes of lava from the old eruptions and at impossibly different elevations. These vineyards are quite separate from each other and are Mount Etna’s distinct - and accurately mapped - crus, here called Contrade.

Raspberry jubes, volcanic rocks, violet, toffee and some aromatic herbs. Medium bodied, but an absolute powerhouse of open weave grippy crushed rock tannin, warm red fruits and bright acidity. Not the finesse and sleek detail of the beautiful 2011: this is full throttle and far more rugged. Alcohol is pretty well hidden, though plays a part in the wine. Finish is long, dry and pulsating. Live wire. Bold Etna. Another vintage, another face of the mountain. Tasted: September 2014; Alcohol: 15.5%; Price: $55; Closure: Cork; Drink: 2015-2021+; Rating: 93 Points; Gary Walsh - The Wine Front



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