The Benanti family, whose Sicilian roots date back to 1734, were true pioneers of Etna with Giuseppe Benanti being the first to realise the true potential for this unique volcanic region. Etna would not be what it is today, were it not for the visionary work of Giuseppe Benanti. The winery, which was set up in 1988 has, over time, sold off the lesser deemed plots of land and acquired further plots in the most prestigious slopes and Contrada. Now totalling 28 hectares, the winery only produces wines from Nerelo Mascalese, Nerelo Capuccio and Carricante.
Benanti Serra della Contessa Etna Rosso Riserva 2018
compelling and nuanced – the nose is ethereal and intense, with hints of wild berries, spices and noble wood. The palate is full, elegant, harmonic, mineral, significantly persistent and with concentrated grip of Patrician old vines.
After almost twenty years of experience vinifying the well-known Etna Rosso Serra della Contessa, in 2015 Benanti decided to aim for new heights by focusing exclusively on the small, pre-phylloxera portion of the vineyard and extending the wine’s vinification, maturation and refining period to 60 months, thereby creating this new, exclusive Etna Rosso Riserva produced in a very limited quantity.Nerello Mascalese (c.85%), Etna’s noble indigenous red variety, and Nerello Cappuccio (c.15%), a grape cultivated on Etna for centuries, co-planted in the same vineyard.
The very steep vineyard is planted on a sandy, volcanic soil, rich in minerals and pumice lava stones, with sub-acid reaction. The head-trained bush vines (“alberello”) are pre-phylloxera and ungrafted, with a planting density of 9,000 to 10,000 vinestocks per hectare and a yield of 4,500 kg/ha. The area’s high hill climate, mitigated by the proximity to the Ionian Sea, is humid and rainy in the cooler season, with constant good ventilation and high luminosity.
The grapes are hand-harvested and selected in late September or early October. Fermentation takes place in a stainless steel vat at a controlled temperature of 25° C, with a long maceration, with the aid of Benanti’s own indigenous yeast, which was selected from local vineyards through years of research and experimentation in the cellar. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel, then maturation occurs in large barrels of French oak (15hl) for about 24 months. The refining period in the bottle is 12 months.