Sicily Awakens - Mount Etna 2018 Sydney

Sicily is such a hypnotic and different place. The island boasts a history punctuated by a revolving door of ruling empires over the centuries that has layered the culture, food, art and way of life (not to mention a fiercely independent people) with such uniqueness that it exists as a kind of country within a country.

In wine, over the last 25 years we've watched the emergence of the island as an Italian vinous powerhouse. Having tried all the fashions in the wine world in its "adolescent years" it has finally arrived back where they started: with their own indigenous varietals grown on their own unique landscapes. There's a humanity and voice in these wines that I don't think can be replicated anywhere else in Italy. They are as diverse and enveloping as the people and the labyrinthine culture.

One look at the producers in this offer underlines this point in fat black market pen. Take for instance the wines of La Calabretta which are made in a notionally "natural" manner but really only reflect the ancient traditions of winemaking at this remarkable estate. The owner/winemaker, Massimiliano Calabretta, continues to work vineyards that were first planted in the early 1900s to service his family's Genoa-based wine business. All are still "trellised" in the albarella way and a chemical has never been used on the property. These are fascinating wines made in tiny quantities. Unique and perhaps not for everyone but for many they will be revelatory.

Similarly, the wines of COS are now an established star of the island and Italian/world wine in general. Again, the independent thought patterns of the three founders led them to start experimenting both with their own indigenous grapes but also with the use of amphorae. Their ability to splice these ancient methods to more modern cellar techniques, all the while preserving such interest in the wines is quite special.

Alongside these, the more recent stars of Etna in Tenuta Fessina and Passopisciaro. Prosecuting what is perhaps the world's most dramatic and beautiful wine landscape on the slopes of Europe’s largest active volcano, these two producers continue to thrill the world with their incredible Nerello Mascarlese (red) and Carricante (white) based wines. They continue to smaller plot-based bottlings exposing the diversity of Etna.

Speaking of which the wines of Anne-Louise Mikkelsson at the microscopic Mt Etna property are similarly impressive. Featured in this offer is the Thalia, Aglaea and Bianco.

In in all, we hope this offer (and complimentary tastings) is as a window on to an area that we firmly believe is third only to Piemonte and Tuscany in the Italian wine world.


Michael McNamara

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