2010 Benanti Etna Rosso 'Rovittello'
There are lots of opportunities to locate young Etna that ably show the tension and vivid volcanic profile so many of us find compelling. Much harder though to find mature examples from excellent vintages guided to bottle by a top-shelf producer.
Lovely secondary stuff peeking through here, with plenty of spine to support the layers that emerge with time in the glass. In the end, this is such a harmonious Rosso, and a clear window into this iconic mountain terroir. - Jason
While viticulture on Sicily's mythical Mount Etna has a history reaching back to ancient times, its record for fine wine production is relatively brief. Prior to the late 1980's Sicily as a whole lacked a meticulous focus towards creating world class wines. The Benanti family were pioneers and their contributions (beginning as the Tenuta di Castiglione) served as a catalyst for a sea change within the winemaking culture- not just for Etna but for Sicily as a whole.
At a time where Italy's stars were shining brightly in regions like Piemonte and Toscana, Giuseppe Benanti firmly believed in elevating the status of Etna through a sage enologist, Salvo Foti, who had thoughtfully cultivated a working knowledge of the rugged volcano's possibilities for viticulture. After some years of dedicated experimental winemaking Benanti debuted their wines on the world stage at Vinitaly 1993 with a quartet of wines from the 1990 vintage, creating immediate excitement not just within Italy but amongst wine enthusiasts and sommeliers internationally.
The Etna Rosso Rovittello, a Nerello Mascalese dominant blend, was among this initial quartet. Based on Etna's leading red varietal, it serves as one of the earliest expressions of Etna wine from a singular subzone. Found on the northern slopes of the volcano, Rovittello is a blend of two contrade (cru sites of distinction) from volcanic ash and sandy soils some 750 meters above sea level. These nearly century old vines are planted in the traditional albarello, or bush-trained, system benefitting from the northern slopes mitigated sunlight and cool shift of night time temperatures. At its best Nerello Mascalese demonstrates a distinctive intensity of flavor, replete with forest berries, mediterranean herbs and an unmistakable sense of volcanic minerality.
While undeniably structured, Nerello Mascalese, especially in the hands of the Benanti's, presents a wine of elegance and a formidable sense of place. Rovittello is one of the signature wines of the estate, being made in every vintage since its debut. It's no coincidence given its assured depiction of place, often discussed in wine but seldom delivered. For me, the 2010 vintage represents a fantastic expression of what Etna Rosso is all about: intensity of flavor and muscle buoyed by floral elegance and complexity. Nerello Mascalese in its youth can present an aggressive streak but this is an offering of the varietal which has unfurled and blossomed with time while still showing great promise for cellaring. - Brandon
Benanti is rightly regarded as the go-to for Etna wines of quality and character. We're thrilled to be presenting this mature example selected (and clearly adored) by our Italian specialist Brandon Anderson. This older vintage of Rovittello is the only availability in the US.