2021 Tornatore, Pietrarizzo, Etna Bianco DOCG, Sicily, Italy.
The single Contrada Pietrarizzo yellow/gold hued Etna Bianco from Tornatore is a 100% Carricante cuvée from terraced vines set high up on the volcano on lava rock and mineral rich soils that perfectly transmit terroir to the glass with elegant transparency and intriguing complexity, and while most will know and search out their Nerello Mascalese reds, this white is fabulous stuff, impressive in depth, texture and length, while being impeccably balanced and mineral intense, rivaling some very charming Burgundy favorites. Slightly smoky, reductive and with an edgy gun flint start, the steely, crisply and bone dry palate quickly opens up to rewarding peachy stone fruit, bright spice, floral tones and zesty citrus, along with hints of leesy almond brioche, white flowers, preserved lemons and snappy herbs. A hint of tropical fruit as well as contrasting earthiness and saline notes makes for a compelling wine that is always reminding you that you need to pay attention here and it should play a starring role at a leisurely meal, especially with a misto of fresh seafoods. I had heard good things about Tornatore, but this wine was proof and I look forward to tasting through the rest of the collection. Investment has brought quality to go with the passion here, with concrete, stainless steel, and conical wood vats for fermentation, as well as choices of wood barrels, in many sizes, for different aging regimens, with this one getting a combination of vats and large casks. Tornatore, which shares the name with the famous director Giuseppe Tornatore, of the cult classic and academy award winning “Cinema Paradiso”, does a Rosé, three different whites, including this one, and five reds, three highly prized single Contrado offerings, one basic Etna Rosso and a rare Etna Rosso Riserva, made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio that sees an extended aging regime.

The Azienda Agricola Francesco Tornatore dates back to 1865, but its fame has only really begun to shine in recent years, when in 2012 they began to label the wines under the family and is now one of the larger Etna wineries with a reputation for quality with some high elevation vineyards that truly capture the essence and soul of the place, set on the slopes of Europe’s most active volcano. The Contrada Pietrarizzo, on the higher and cooler north side of Etna is east of the famous Passopiscaro and on some good slope, where it gets a lot of sun and gets fully ripe Carricante grapes with concentration and vibrant acidity, as seen here in this pure Etna Bianco. For this wine, the team at Tornatore, including the respected winemaker Vincenzo Bambina, use temperature controlled cool natural fermentations, with some cement and stainless, and the grapes are whole cluster pressed and aged, on the fine lees for about 5 months in large neutral oak 50HL botti before a quick bottling to preserve clarity and precise details in the wine. Most people wouldn’t believe how cold it is up on the volcano and considering Sicily is not far from Africa in the Mediterranean Sea, this terroir is unique and there is a longer growing season, in fact this wine sees a harvest in October typically and that adds to the authentic expression and complexity in the finished wine. Tornatore, located near Castiglione di Sicilia, is set up between 400 and 700 meters above sea level ensures fruit density and good acidity and they take full advantage of that blessing in their wines, as this Pietrarizzo Carricante displays to great effect. For the last decade or more now, Etna has been a wine world hot spot for enthusiasts with wines, both red and white, that are full of personality and delicacy, which I personally have a great fondness for and highly recommend for their soulful and exotic seductive qualities, there’s never been a better time to discover them.
($49-55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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