Sicilian producer Planeta is fermenting is first ever Etna DOC from this year’s harvest having completed a new winery on the slopes of the active volcano.
Planeta’s first release Nerello Mascalese under IGT Sicilia
The producer, famous for its wines from Sambuca di Sicilia, Menfi, Noto and Cerasuolo di Vittoria, will be making wines from native grapes Nerello Mascalese and Carricante, as well as international varieties Riesling and Pinot Noir.
However, Planeta has in fact already made wine from grapes grown in DOC Etna.
Its first red wine from the region was produced using 100% native grape Nerello Mascalese from the 2010 vintage, but was labelled as IGT Sicilia because it was made and bottled outside the Etna area.
This initial release will be shipped in November this year, having been bottled in March, and comes with a strikingly simple label to reflect its prototype status (see picture, left).
Planeta also make a Carricante still white and traditional method sparkling from its vineyards at Etna.
The latter spends 14 months on its lees, and 6,000 bottles were made in 2009 – its first vintage – which was doubled in 2010 to 12,000 bottles.
The new winery is in fact found at a separate site from the Planeta vineyards at Etna, although within the DOC.
While Planeta’s Etna vineyards, located at a site called Sciara Nuova, feature an old winery, Alessio Planeta told the drinks business that converting the now ruined buildings into a working winery was too complicated, not least due to local planning laws.
As a result, the buildings at this site will be used for receiving guests.
Planeta is also intending to plant ancient terraces – pictured over the following pages – at this site next year.
Receiving grapes at the new winery
Meanwhile, the new winery, which has been built at Feudo di Mezzo on an old lava flow, has come with a surprising addition.
Alongside the building, which was completed just in time for this year’s harvest, Planeta staff have discovered a patch of very old bush vines.
Alessio said there were as many as 500 ungrafted vines planted in a haphazard fashion which are at least 80 years old.
Planeta plans to make a wine from the surprise discovery this year at the new cellar.
As for the nature of the 2012 vintage, Alessio said extreme heat had pushed grape sugars, and as a result, alcohol, to unusually high levels.
“I’ve never seen such a high levels of alcohol,” he said, adding, “No producer in Etna will be making reds this year with alcohol below 14%.”
Click here for a dbTV video interview with Alessio Planeta
Over the following pages are pictures from Planeta’s vineyards at Etna.