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. They started bottling the contrada wines separately in 2008, with a label change in 2009.
Contrada Rampante is their highest cru at 1,000 m (3,330 ft) above sea level. At the highest confines of viticulture on the northern side of Etna, Rampante is ancient contrada, producing one of volcano’s finest, most aromatic wines because of the sandy character that the lava has acquired. Due to the altitude, it is typically the last contrada to ripen. They own and cultivate 1.4 hectares on this domain.
2012 was a hot and dry year, with no rain from May to October – one of the warmest summers they’ve had on Etna. At the beginning of October they 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. They risked losing the harvest, but finally the rains came. After just two days, the components – sugars and acidity – came into balance, and so they harvested very quickly. Fortunately, nerello mascalese is a strong vine, and even in the worst years it can be revived
The 2012 harvest in this contrada occurred on the 22nd of October. The wine is light, clean, crisp, and long in the mouth. It is dominated by notes of marzipan, citrus, and mountain fruit aromas and has great aging potential. Very delicate and elegant, it connotes the idea of aesthetics.
Vineyard age: 100 years
Vineyard area: 1.7 hectares
Vineyard density: 8,000 vines per Ha
Vineyard altitude: 1,000 m/3,300 ft a.s.l.
Yield per hectare: 18 Hl/Ha
Spraying: Propolis, sulphur, copper, clay, grapefruit seed extract
Vinification: Alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel vats for 10 days
Aging: Malolactic fermentation followed by 18 months aging in large, neutral oak barrels
Bottling: waning moon of April 2014
Production: 3,500 bottles