Benanti – Sicily’s Finest
Benanti, Etna, Sicily – Pre-Shipping Offer
Small-scale, domestic wine-making had been in the Benanti family for generations, but it wasn’t until 1988 that Dr. Giuseppe Benanti, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur from Catania, decided to turn his long-time interest from a hobby into a business.
He started with an extensive and selective study of the Etna soils and clones of indigenous vines, and followed that by looking into the latest viticultural and oenological techniques to find out which combinations would result in his ultimate aim, which was to be able to produce high-quality, exciting wines that reflect their history, terroir and sense of place – tradition and modernity working together.
The winery is now run by Giuseppe’s two sons, Antonio and Salvino, who have continued their father’s approach of respecting the individual characteristics of the Etna varieties. Describing their wines as ‘slow wines’, the brothers ensure nothing is rushed in Benanti winemaking; they are committed to producing only high-quality wines from vineyards located on different slopes of Mount Etna, so as to highlight the uniqueness of the many different terroirs within the Etna DOC region. The family now owns vineyards in different DOC areas to the north, south and east of the Etna massif allowing them to produce an intriguing range of wines from the indigenous varieties Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante and Minnella.
The area provides a unique microclimate due partly to the proximity to the sea, partly to the volcanic soil and also to the cone-shaped surface of the slopes which provides excellent exposure to the sun. The sea breezes and the altitude ensure the grapes are cooled in what would otherwise be a very hot climate, so that the ripening process can reach its full potential but, crucially, without being rushed.
With more than two decades of production on Etna, Benanti is now considered both a top producer and a pioneer that has inspired others. The wines have never been better and are recognised throughout Italy for their supreme quality, winning friends, accolades and awards in equal measure. They are marvellous wines and we wholeheartedly recommend them.
Price is GBP per 6 x 75cl under bond, wines are due to arrive spring 2022. All wines offered subject to remaining available. Delivery and Transfer charges apply.
Benanti Latest Releases
2019 Etna Bianco Superiore Contrada Rinazzo – £220
This is like essence of lemon, with everything from flowers to candied fruit, plus touches of pastry and fresh bread. Very concentrated, with a exciting interplay of fruit and elegant mineral acidity. Very long finish, but this still needs some time for everything to knit together. Drinkable now, but best from 2023. Score 95/100 Stuart Pigott, James Suckling
2019 Etna Rosso Contrada Cavaliere – £185
From two Nerello varieties and a relatively new wine from the Benantis, from grapes grown in recent vineyard acquisitions in the Contrada Cavaliere in Santa Maria di Licodia; the vines lie 900 metres up on the southwest side of Etna. It has quite an intense, dark colour; the nose is fragrant, with red and black fruits, cherry, spice, and ‘mineral’. This follows through onto the palate, vibrant fruit with good acidity and surprisingly soft tannins. Good finish. This is an approachable wine, quite delicious, that will benefit from a little aging – great with grills and pasta.
2019 Etna Rosso Contrada Monte Serra – £185
100% Nerello Mascalese, Fermented in stainless steel and aged in neutral large oak casks. It’s time to taste the volcano! Although this is still very young, it has an amazingly refined nose that reminds us of top-class red Burgundy. Quite full-bodied, but super-elegant and transparent, with very fine tannins that build to a stunning crescendo at the mineral finish. Patience will be rewarded! Drinkable now, but best from 2023 Score 97/100 Stuart Pigott, James Suckling
Etna Rosso Riserva Rovitello Alberello Centenario Particella No. 341 – £435
From vines grown on terraces at 750 metres on Etna’s northern slopes. The bush-trained (alberello) vines are pre-phylloxera and ungrafted, 90% Nerello Mascalese with Nerello Cappuccio, grown on sandy, volcanic soil, rich in minerals. The area’s mountain climate is humid and rather rainy in the colder season, snowy at times, with good ventilation and very significant diurnal range. Hand-harvesting takes place in late October. Fermentation is in a stainless steel vat at a controlled temperature of 25°C, with a long maceration, with the aid of Benanti’s own indigenous yeast, selected from local vineyards through years of research and experimentation in the cellar. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel, then maturation occurs in large barrels of French oak (15hl) for about 24 months. The refining period in the bottle is 12 months. Pale ruby/garnet colour and the nose is floral with ripe red and black fruits, red cherry, hint of earthy spice, touch of oak. Lovely, pure, whole berry fruit in the mouth, very fine, with good acidity and fine tannins to balance. Very long finish. Amazing wine. Game, roasts, cheese and so on
Nothing to say when a wine is this good, all you can do is take your hat off. Tasted blind, I really thought it was a Barbaresco from Treiso, and I don’t often make mistakes like that, so there you have it. Pure, precise, chiseled, seamless with an Etna-typical nervy minerality and seamless texture, this is just a mindbogglingly good wine, if you pass me the term. 97/100 Ian D’Agata on Terroirsense.com