Alessio became Planeta's chief winemaker in 1998. Since then he has been creating and marketing Planeta's wines. I could hear his passion for the land:
"Sicily is special. Dotted with places with varieties of soil and of culture. The jewel is the volcano."
He means Etna. Volcanic soils exhibit much diversity, despite common ideas that all volcanic soil is lava. He told us that Etna is more like an island, since it rose from the sea like mushroom 700,000 years ago. Its land was formed by matter escaping from up from bottom border and rising above the sea, rather than by a blowing top and cascade of lava.
It's still an active volcano today. Every few years ash blows out to fall on existing land, which continually transforms the lava stones. After all these years, ash is now a main component of the soils. Vineyard sites must be flat as soils are powdery, so man made terraces are a common feature. The soil ranges from ancient to younger more organic soils.
Much as the conversation fascinated me, the best thing about DOC Etna is that it's a place where history, geology and viticulture combine to produce delicious wines.
Alessio wins more awards and says the whites in general are of better quality. This is especially true of the Eruzione 1614 Carricante. Carricante is the leading white grape Planeta produces in Etna. It pulls from the soil a fresh and lively mineral quality underpinned by a floral note. Alessio's "secret ingredient" 10% Riesling, makes all the difference, Riesling grown surrounded by the Carricante, blends and reinforces floral notes and acidity. As much as Alessio is skilled with the white wines, he roots for his reds
|Photo Credit Planeta: Nerollo Mascalese
|Photo Credit Planeta:Feudo di Mezzo Vnyd
Sicily is an area that delivers a diverse range of wine from Marsala to Nero d'Avola. Lots of influences that contribute including culture, grapes and climate.
I love ordering wines from Etna when I see them on wine lists because I have found them to be an excellent value, delicious with many foods and exotic. I think about all the inherent challenges in viticulture and wine making, and then throw in an active volcano.
If you see Planeta wines on your wine list, please do try them. You won't be disappointed.
Many thanks to Bethany Burke of Palm Bay International who hosted me at this lunch