2018 Passopisciaro “Contrada Guardiola”
2018 Passopisciaro “Contrada Guardiola” The wines of this year will be varietally correct, linear, with a pronounced acidity, with the long-lived characteristics that define the finer vintage on Etna. 2018 was one of the rainiest and most tropical vintages we’ve seen on Etna in the last eight years, especially at the end of the summer. This year, we had to increase the number of times we passed through the vineyards to remove leaves mindfully, avoiding any burning but allowing air to pass through the canopy to mitigate the effects of this wet and humid climate. We countered effects of disease with natural products like clay and propolis as well.
Andrea Franchetti arrived on Mt. Etna in 2000 and helped to initiate the renaissance of viticulture on the mountain and an international discovery of the region as a quality wine region. Franchetti makes eight different wines at his winery Passopisciaro, fewer than 8,000 total cases annually. Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe, given to relatively frequent lava spills. These spills devastate the landscape, yet each flow leaves a unique mineral profile, giving rise to the notion of various terroirs, here called Contrade. The borders of the Contrade reflect old feudal property lines, which are still mapped out on the local land registry. As Passopisciaro, we respect and play to the strengths of the terroir on Etna, producing wines of remarkable complexity and individual personality.
Six of these wines are focused on the indigenous grape Nerello Mascalese, a late-ripening grape with little color, large bunches, strong skins, ancient vines grown on restored terraces at various altitudes across the mountain, selected for their density, vine age, and exposition. The wine Passorosso is a bright, holistic rendering of the grape that is unique and ever-present on the volcano, blending from different altitudes and lava flows. First made in 2001, it has been a textbook example of Etna wine ever since. Starting in 2008, Passopiscaro began to bottle the top sites separately, helping to usher in a cru system on Etna. These five Contrada wines — Chiappemacine, Porcaria, Guardiola, Sciaranuova, and Rampante — each come from vineyards of different ages and are each on a lava flow with different minerals, grain size, and altitudes.