Friday Feature 1/17/14: The 2011 Releases of Passopisciaro.

Hello & Happy Friday!


We figure most of you are done starving yourselves with juice cleanses, so get off your detoxed derrieres  and get ready for some alcohol induced euphoria once again. We are here to tempt you with wonderful wines from Sicily.


But first, we want to again remind you of our referral program. Each referral that makes a purchase at Perman Wine Selections in 2014 will get the referee’s name entered in a monthly drawing.  The winner will take home a great bottle or bottles of wine chosen by Sheb and Craig.


All you need to do is introduce a friend or colleague to us, and tell them to mention your name when they make their first purchase, and on the last day of the month we will draw a name out of a Champagne bucket!


This month’s referral prize is a bottle of Lallement Rosé Champagne! We’re not fooling around here when we say we appreciate your word of mouth endorsements.


Now back to our feature.


Today we are happy to announce the arrivals of the new releases from Passopisciaro, Andrea Franchetti’s incredible estate on Mount Etna. His work on Mount Etna, and with the noble grape of the region, Nerello Mascalese, has really changed the world view of what this area, along with Nerello, is capable of.


His work began on the Northern slopes of this still active volcano in 2000. The first vintage was produced in 2005, called simply Passopisciaro. As he became more intimate with the area and his holdings increased, he began bottling single vineyards, which the Sicilians call Contradas.


Much like the cru systems in Barolo & Burgundy, contradas are identified by their unique expositions and strata packages. On Etna, many of the Contradas are based upon geological formations and natural divisions formed by ancient and recent lava flows. Although some of these contradas have been culturally recognized for many many years, it is a recent and somewhat modern practice to have their names listed on the bottle.


As you can imagine, it is very difficult to farm on the steep and craggy slopes of Mount Etna. Much of the work is done painstakingly by hand, a true labor of love. The highest of Franchetti’s vineyards sites is over 3000 feet above sea level! The pumice-y, volcanic soils impart a rich, intense minerality to the wines; and lest we forget, Nerello Mascalese, a thin-skinned beauty, is adapted solely and uniquely to these extreme growing conditions. Those of you that collect and enjoy Burgundy and Barolo are sure to fall in love with Nerello and all its terroir-driven charms.


Of course, as is with many wines like these, quantities are very small, especially on the contradas. Many of Passopisciaro’s Contrada designated wines come from plots that are 2 acres or less. Because Craig has been an ardent supporter of the wines from day one, we get about 25% of all the allocation for Illinois. But this still is not a lot. They sell out quickly, year after year.


Italian wine fanatics – do not miss these!


Have a great weekend,
Craig & Sheb


2011 Passopisciaro Etna Rosso

Passopisciaro’s flagship wine, a stunning expression of Nerello Mascalese and a great entry into this producer.




2011 Contrada Chiappemacine

A small Contrada, 1800 feet above sea level, between cliffs of sandstone and lava. This is a windswept area,  and some of the roots reach deeply underneath the lava, to a small pocket of embedded limestone, giving this wine a lush, full mouth, yet retaining a nervy and aromatic precision. The vines here are 80 years old.

$65.99/ BTL. 



2011 Contrada Sciaranuova

Sciaranuova sits at 2800 feet above sea level and is considered of three “grand” crus of Mount Etna (the others being Guardiola and Porcaria). The lava here is clumpy and wet, and comes apart like soaked coal. The wines are deep, large-fleshed, and have a rich, extremely earthy flavor. The vines are 80 years old.




2011 Contrada Rampante

This is one of the highest Contradas still cultivated on Etna. Steep walled terraces here climb the wall of lava above the town of Solicchiata. Dying old vineyards have been saved; soils are sandy, paler than in other places, because of a very old, oxidized lava spill. Wines from here can be very pure and delicate, lithe, lifted, long-lived and very aromatic. This is the conrada that is harvested last. The vines are 80+ years old.




2011 Contrada Porcaria

A large, old vineyard that sits at 2100 feet above sea level, this is Mount Etna’s most famous and sought-after contrada because of the full bodied, lush and robust wines it produces. The soil is made of a frail lava sheet that splinters under one’s feet. The wines here are lush and aromatically complex. Dark and full- bodied in the mouth, reaching into notes of burnt sugar. The plants are 80+ years old.





2011 Contrada Guardiola

The Contrada Guardiola is an ancient vineyard that sits at 3000 feet above sea level, at the tip of a relatively recent lava flow whose eruption was in 1947. Passopisciaro made a careful selection of the older vines, many of which are pre-phylloxera. The vines produce deep wines with a rich taste of red fruit, and Nerello’s hallmark earth tones.  Production of 2011 Guardiola was 3200 bottles.




This entry was posted in Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters, Newsletter. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.