An Ancient and Unique Terroir

Mount Etna is at once an ancient mountain, an active volcano and a remarkable terroir for grapevines. More than 200,000 years of accumulated volcanic debris has resulted in rocky, fast-draining, nutrient-poor, mineral-rich soils that form near perfect conditions for indigenous grape varieties Carricante, Catarratto, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio.

In this strange paradise, Palmento Costanzo sustainably farms vineyards situated on centuries-old terraces of dried lava. Planted at an epic 650-780 metres above sea level on the north-facing side of the volcano, five to 30-year-old bush vines thrive in volcanic sands, a remarkable soil formed from remnants of lava flows broken down over time.

Respecting such venerable land – the area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 – is paramount to Palmento Costanzo, who not only farm sustainably, but have also adopted bioarchitecture, a philosophy of building and living that establishes a balanced, sustainable relationship with the natural environment. The winery follows ‘a caduta’ (top-down or gravity-flow) winemaking: sorting and crushing grapes start at the roofline and the winemaking process finishes with aging deep in underground cellars.

Grapes are painstakingly hand-picked from their steep terraces and after a soft pressing and very little skin contact, fermentation with indigenous yeasts takes place in neutral stainless steel tanks. The ‘Mofete’ Etna Bianco, a blend of 70% Carricante and 30% Catarratto, is also aged in steel and in contact with the fine lees. Made with 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio, ‘Mofete’ Etna Rosso is aged for 12 months half in steel and half in oak and then for a further 12 months in bottle before release. Fragrant, mineral-driven, savoury and complex these are wines that truly reflect the ancient magic of their mountain home.

Palmento Costanzo 2019 ‘Mofete’ Etna Bianco, Sicily
Retail: $37.95 / btl (6btl/cs)

Palmento Costanzo 2018 ‘Mofete’ Etna Rosso, Sicily
Retail: $37.95 / btl (6btl/cs)

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The Wines

Palmento Costanzo 2019 ‘Mofete’ Etna Bianco, Sicily

Medium straw yellow colour with a fragrant bouquet of lemon peel, grapefruit and orange along with fresh mineral notes and hints of Mediterranean herbs. The wine is vibrant, fresh and sapid on the palate with green apple and lemon and an intriguing salty touch on the finish.

Palmento Costanzo 2018 ‘Mofete’ Etna Rosso, Sicily

Medium ruby red colour with a bouquet of sour cherry, black currant and liquorice with gentle peppery spice aromas and hints of volcanic ash. On the palate the wine is fresh, with fine-grained tannins and a savoury, salty finish.

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About Palmento Costanzo

Located on the northern slopes of Mount Etna in the Santo Spirito area of the town of Passopisciaro, the newly renovated Palmento-Costanzo winery opened in 2011. With over 100 terraced slopes, 14ha in total, rising from 600-800 metres, the vines – some more than a century old – are supported on wooden trellises surrounding the ancient winery. The vineyard and winery have been brought back to life in a meticulous and sensitive restoration based on the principles of bioarchitecture and with attention to local history and a carefully researched revival of traditional production techniques. (Bioarchitecture is defined as a philosophy of building, restructuring and living which aims to establish a balanced, sustainable relationship between the natural environment and construction). The winery follows the traditional winemaking techniques, ‘a caduta’ (top-down), that starts receiving grapes from the roof, continues in the winemaking barrels and finishes in the aging, underground.

Palmento-Costanzo pays homage to its ancestry; historic wine producers who worked the ash-covered slopes for centuries, pioneering Etna’s viticulture. The volcano, Europe’s largest, sustains a series of microclimates that vary from one part of the mountain to another. The volcanic deposits, climatic variations and subtle thermal changes that occur on a daily basis, make for a fertile terrain, ideal for grape cultivation. This combines with a higher rainfall, 10 times the average for Sicily, and a winter snowfall that accumulates on the summit of the mountain, creating a unique environment for wine production. Several different grape varieties are grown, including Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante and Catarratto.

Palmento-Costanzo produce two ranges of wine. Mofete is a contemporary wine from vines that are less than 30 years old that pay homage to the terroir. ‘Di Sei’ series represents the perfect expression of an Etna DOC wine characterized by a variety of historic native grapes and manual harvesting using the centuries old ‘albarello’ system, where the grapes are grown on trunks rather than trellises (aka gobelet or head-pruned). Husband and wife team, Mimmo and Valeria Costanzo are hands on. Despite holding ‘day jobs’ in construction and renewable energy – Costanzo is one of the biggest names in Sicily in this field – they are dedicated to the creation of wines made as naturally as possible with respect for the traditions of Mount Etna. Total annual production is approximately 30,000 bottles (2,500 cases).

palmentocostanzo.com

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You can also email [email protected] or call 416.693.7994. We’d love to chat about wine with you!

Palmento Costanzo is represented in Ontario by The Vine Agency.

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