Grape varieties: Nerello Mascalese
Passopisciaro produces six different bottlings of Nerello mascalese, the native grape to Mt. Etna, in order to showcase the profound differences in the terroir – lava flow, aspect, and altitude – of the various Contrade that we work with. The vines are all between 70-100 years old, and the nerello harvest typically occurs at the end of October/early November. The wines undergo fermentation in steel vats, followed by malolactic and 18 months aging in large neutral oak barrels; this minimal intervention approach to winemaking allows the differences in terroir to shine.
Contrada Porcaria is a large old domain at 650 m (2,100 ft) a.s.l. and is considered Mount Etna’s famous and sought-after contrade because of the lush, robust wines it produces. The soil is made of a frail sheet of lava that splinters under one’s feet. We make wine from 1.5 hectares that we own within this cru.
2012 was a hot and dry year, with no rain from May to October – one of the warmest summers we’ve had on Etna. At the beginning of October we started tasting the grapes in the vineyards, but everything was quite unripe. The sugar was high while the acidity was low, and yet the plants were highly stressed to the point that the grapes were almost raisinated on the vine. All of the other winemakers harvested early as a result, but we felt the grapes’ pH was still too low and the alcohol too high to follow suite, instead irrigating and waiting for the grapes to mature properly. We risked losing the harvest, but finally the rains came. After just two days, the components – sugars and acidity – came into balance, and so we harvested very quickly. Fortunately, nerello mascalese is a strong vine, and even in the worst years it can be revived
We harvested in this Contrada on October 18th and 20th. This wine is huge, very dark, tarry, more mouth-filling than were the last two vintages. It is less like a nerello, not a midpalate wine, more akin to a nebbiolo. This vintage it has been overshadowed by the Guardiola cru in its depth; nonetheless it remains a quarterback, a mainstay among Franchetti’s wines. It’s a true reflection of agriculture.
Vineyard age: 80 years
Vineyard area: 1.5 hectare
Vineyard density: 8,000 vines/Ha
Vineyard altitude: 650 m asl
Yield per hectare: 13 Hl/Ha
Spraying: Propolis, clay, grapefruit seed extract, sulphur, copper
Vinification: Alcoholic fermentation on the skins in stainless steel vats for 10 days
Aging: MLF followed by 18 months aging in large, neutral oak barrels
Bottling: waning moon of June 2014
Production: 2,000 bottles