«In 2002, Terre Nere’s first year of production, I somewhat daringly defined the Etna appellation as the “Burgundy of the Mediterranean”. Comparing Europe’s extreme southern latitudes to a quintessentially northern climat, while apparently nonsensical, had and still has its reasons. For the Etna climat belongs to Sicily much like an exception belongs to a rule, or perhaps as an island belongs to the sea.» Marco De Grazia
North in the middle of Mediterranean sea
The weather on the slopes of Europe’s largest and very much alive volcano is unique in Sicily’s panorama. It simply stands alone. The elevated altitudes dedicated to viticulture start at 400 metres above sea level, sometimes reaching above 1,000 metres – a range in itself unique with respect to all other appellations known to me.
These heights are characterized by temperature excursions between day and night that often register up to 30 degrees Celsius. With a range that clearly engenders extreme microclimatic differences. Equally remarkable are the volcanic soil dynamics, created by incalculable numbers of lava flows following upon each other in the volcano’s venerable age, each flow a complex mineral entity in its own right. Soils, thus, of a most complex matrix, that commonly surface in veins of completely different nature only hundreds of feet apart.
Apply all the above to that “belt” that is the Etna D.O.C., girdling a volcanic circumference of about 120 square kilometers, with exposures that range from full south to full north and everything in between. Then weave into the tapestry an average rainfall six to ten times that of the Sicilian norm, a relevant part of which occurs during by far the latest harvest in Sicily, and, indeed, one of the latest in Europe.
The fascinating analogy
perhaps, then the paradoxical comparison to a Burgundy – justly famous for the multiplicity of its soils and the dangerously whimsical nature of its climate – may appear more acceptable. Where the analogy fascinates even further is in the character of the wines. It isn’t really a similarity in taste. Yet one powerfully feels they are siblings. Drinking them one is inescapably struck by a similarity that runs deep and binds. They have an effortless way about them, as if the same hand wove them.
«As if refined fingers – says Marco de Grazia – weaving deftly through soil and stone keep creating shade upon shade of chromatic and sensorial variations».