Planeta: Our wines are babies when we sell them

Francesca Planeta of Sicilian estate Planeta has spoken out about having to release her Etna wines before they are ready, describing them as “babies” when they go on sale.

Francesca Planeta Speaking during a Planeta tasting at 28-50 in London earlier this month, Francesca, who runs her family estate with cousin Alessio, said:

“Etna whites are becoming increasingly trendy and popular – we sell more than we can produce at the moment. There is strong demand right now for wines that show real typicity of where they are from and that aren’t easy to replicate.

“Our wines are babies when we put them on the market – it’s a shame we have to sell them so early as they have a long life ahead of them and it’s not really fair on them.

Planeta's white from Etna

Planeta’s Etna white

“Give the whites a few years and the acidity is better integrated in the wines and the fruit and mineral softness comes out. We keep a little back for ourselves to monitor how the wines evolve.

“They reward you even more if you give them the time in bottle they deserve, so it’s best to buy them young but then age them for a few years before opening.”

Planeta believes Etna produces two different kinds of whites, those that are more Alsatian in style due to their acidity, freshness and citrus flavours, and more mineral examples that tip their hat to Chablis.

Despite the recent popularity of Etna whites, Planeta revealed that one of the main grapes grown in the region, Carricante, isn’t an easy variety to work with.

“Carricante is a very productive variety so to get good results you need to do a lot of green harvesting, but you’re rewarded with lovely almond, melon and pear aromas and flavours,” she said.

As for Etna’s signature red grape, Nerello Mascalese, Planeta believes it offers similar characteristics to top Nebbiolo for a fraction of the price.

“Nerello Mascalese is very similar to Nebbiolo in style but it’s fresher, more approachable and less tannic. It offers Barolo lovers a better value alternative,” she said.

With regards to recent vintages, Planeta described 2014 as “one of the worst vintages in Italy” but “one of the best for Planeta in the last 20 years” as everything was in balance so the grapes enjoyed a slow ripening period.

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