Etna in its Entirety
The Benanti name represents a profound respect for Etna’s wine vocation. In fact, the volcano and its terroir present an important heterogeneity, which makes each slope or area particularly suitable for one grape variety over another. Mount Etna stands more than 3,000 meters high. Its slopes show substantial differences for winegrowing, including variable exposures, temperature range, altitude, volcanic soil, brightness, rainfall, rate ventilation, influence of the sea, and farming systems.
The DOC area, semi-circular in shape, extends from north to southwest in a clockwise direction, with an elevation that, depending on the slope, varies from 450 to 1050 meters above sea level.
Slopes and “Contrade”
Benanti is the only winery with vineyards on every slope of the Etna DOC area
Northern landscapeContrada Dafara Galluzzo
Castiglione di Sicilia
In Rovittello, a prestigious hamlet in the municipality of Castiglione di Sicilia, only red varieties are grown, using the traditional alberello (head-trained bush vines) system. A number of these vines are more than one-hundred years old and ungrafted.
The wines originating from Contrada Dafara Galluzzo are:
– Rovittello Particella No. 341 Etna Rosso Riserva
– Contrada Dafara Galluzzo Etna Rosso
- 750 m a.s.l. / 2,450 ft a.s.l.
- 37° 51' 04.50`` N
- 15° 05' 27.00`’ E
- Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio
- Humid, wide temperature range
- Ancient Mongibello, fine grain size, fertile, with high water retention
Of the four Contrade where we work, Rovittello is the one with the oldest soils. The matrix of the landscape belongs to the Etna geological period called Ancient Mongibello, with a genesis more than ten-thousand years old.
Located on the north side of the volcano, the area enjoys a mildly humid climate, a factor that has influenced an evolution of the soils towards very fine granules and very small particles, which assure excellent water retention and a good supply of organic humus. The result is fertile soils, suitable for all agricultural plants. Vines are historically cultivated in this area.
Rovittello is particularly suited to the cultivation of red cultivars. Here Nerello Mascalese shows good structure and fresh acidity. The temperature range of this area is supported by its particular morphology, without direct marine influences. The old vineyards of this district were partially covered by lava in September 1911 during an eruption that gave birth to Etna’s northeast crater, an event that pushed volcanic material in the direction of the Alcantara river.
From the small old vineyard, Parcel N° 341 — planted with centenary vines of Nerello Mascalese and, to a minimal extent, Nerello Cappuccio — we obtain a single wine, the Etna Rosso Riserva Rovittello Particella N° 341. Our Etna Rosso Contrada Dafara Galluzzo is born from the remaining part of the Nerello Mascalese vineyard.
Eastern landscapeContrada Rinazzo
The tiny municipality of Milo is the only area permitted for wines labeled Etna Bianco Superiore, according to the Etna D.O.C. rules. In this steep vineyard, composed of numerous small terraces with dry lava stone walls overlooking the Ionian Sea, only Carricante is grown. Vines are trained in alberello and supported by a traditional chestnut post.
- 800 m a.s.l. / 2,600 ft a.s.l.
- 37° 43' 32.20`` N
- 15° 06' 56.40`’ E
- Rainy, humid, and well ventilated
- Lava substrates from the ancient Mongibello, fine grain size, fertile, high water retention
Eastern exposure in the direction of the Ionian Sea, five miles away, with constant ventilation.
These soils have evolved on relatively recent lava substrates (Mongibello Giovane). The climate in Milo is rather rainy and humid. Together with the elevation, soils have a very fine grain and the capacity for marked water retention that donates good physiochemical fertility to the vineyard, which assists in easy crop development and exquisite quality.
Above certain elevations the maturation of grapes can be delayed. Here, in the upper reaches of Milo, there has been a historical consolidation of the Carricante variety. There is a particular tendency for wines grown in this area to maintain a sustained acidity, freshness and aromatic finesse, which has meant that in this unique corner of the Etna DOC, the sub-appellation Etna Bianco Superiore is allowed.
All the parcels of our vineyard in Milo are planted to Carricante. The vines are trained in alberello (head-trained bush vines) supported by the traditional chestnut post, and are of variable ages. From the highest part of the vineyard, where small terraces are less sandy, Etna Bianco Superiore Pietra Marina is born. From the remaining part of this impressive site we produce our Etna Bianco Superiore Contrada Rinazzo.
South-Eastern landscapeContrada Monte Serra
In the town of Viagrande we find the main incoming estate of the winery, on the slope of an ancient volcanic cone that donates its name to the Contrada. The vineyard is primarily composed of native red cultivars organized in the traditional alberello system. A number of vines are ungrafted and more than one-hundred years old.
The wines originationg from Contrada Monte Serra are:
– Serra della Contessa Particella No. 587 Etna Rosso Riserva
– Contrada Monte Serra Etna Rosso
- 450 - 500 m a.s.l. / 1,500 – 1,640 ft a.s.l.
- 37° 36' 57.00`` N
- 15° 05' 56.00`’ E
- Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio
- Sub-humid, well ventilated
- Light, pyroclastic material with high draining capacity
This area was formed by pyroclastic debris that erupted from the eponymous volcanic cone following an ancient period of explosive activity, which occurred through a conduit independent of Etna’s primary magma chamber. As a result, the volcanic cone we call Monte Serra is distant from the central craters, and much closer to the sea. On this substrate, the hyperlocalized soil has evolved to light material with high draining capacity. The roots of the vines reach considerable depth in search of water.
From a climatic point of view, Contrada Monte Serra is located in an area that is less humid with a South-Eastern exposure. Thanks to the aforementioned pedological characteristics, grapes ripen a little earlier here than on other parts of the mountain, giving life to wines that are softer, elegant and ageworthy.
This area is historically planted with Nerello Mascalese but we also find Nerello Cappuccio and white grape varieties such as Carricante and, to a small extent, Minnella Bianca.
The Serra della Contessa Particella No. 587 Etna Rosso Riserva originates from a small, very steep, co-planted plot of centennial alberelli growing at the top of the estate. From the lower bordering plots of Nerello Mascalese, which include very old vines, we produce our Etna Rosso Contrada Monte Serra.
South-western landscapeContrada Cavaliere
S. Maria di Licodìa
The vineyards in the municipality of Santa Maria di Licodìa grow at considerable elevations, with favorable conditions for all of Etna’s indigenous red and white varieties that are trained in rows and pruned using a Guyot system.
- 900 - 950 m a.s.l. / 2,950 – 3,100 ft as.l.
- 37° 39' 31,20" N
- 14° 55' 06,20" E
- Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante
- Relatively hot and slightly rainy, with a significant temperature range
- Fine texture with great structure. Very fertile.
Generally, the southern slopes are geologically younger, thanks to the formation of soils on relatively recent lava flows. However, this contrada occupies outcroppings with soils that are far older, the evolution of which has generated rather fine but complex soils. The vineyard floor has considerable physiochemical and biological fertility that benefits from a warmer and drier climate that is not tempered by sea breezes.
Thanks to the morphology and remarkable elevation in the area, the diurnal shift in temperature is dramatic. This is very important for polyphenolic synthesis and the formation of highly-appreciable aroma compounds within the grapes.
Here, both the Nerellos and the Carricante give rise to wines with well-marked aromas and varietal structure.
The highest vineyard is planted to Carricante. The lower one hosts Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. All varieties are trained in rows, vines are up to 55 years old.
From these vineyards we produce the Etna Bianco Contrada Cavaliere, the Etna Rosso Contrada Cavaliere and the Terre Siciliane Nerello Cappuccio.