Eight years after landing in Siena, where he established Tenuta di Trinoro, Andrea Franchetti acquired Passopisciaro (“Fisherman’s Path”), an ancient vineyard and winery, on the slopes of Sicily’s Mt. Etna. In the town of Castiglione, he planted 40 acres of vines on the northern side of Etna, at an elevation that peaks at just over 1,000m. And while the lava-strewn slopes of Etna were a hot bed in the 1920′s, it is only in the last 10 years that vintners began to reexamine the area as ripe for quality wine production.
With ancient terraces and a long ripening season that extends into November, Mt. Etna is an active volcano with mineral rich lava soil that greatly benefits the two varietals that thrive here: Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese. Embracing the latter of the two, Franchetti first released Passopisciaro, a blend of 100% Nerello Mascalese from different Contrada (or Crus).
In 2009, Andrea introduced four other wines, all from single vineyards with different terroir and elevations. By using these high elevations to reduce yields and alcohol content, Franchetti mastered Nerello Mascalese–an indigenous Sicilian grape that produces pale, lean, and delicate “northern” wines that are reminiscent of Pinot Noir.
Of the four Contrada Etna–including Rampante, Chiappemacine, Sciaranuova, and Porcaria–that Franchetti released in 2009, all used to be blended together for the Passopiscairo wine. However, in 2008 the Passopiscario was made from a blend of pickings from Contradas Malpasso, Guardiola, Santo Spirito, and Arcuria. Light ruby in color, this is a smoky wine with lush berry fruit and a touch of spice, that finishes surprisingly lean and minerally with lingering light fruit.