Contrada R 2016


At Passopisciaro, 2016 gave us lean and steadily ripening grapes so that we were able to pick with an exact timing. I would run up every morning to find the same little jump forward in the vineyards then decide to give them another night. I would descend to the winery where the fluid procession of pickups loaded with nerello fruit from all our contradas had resumed.

First, one is surprised by the grapes’ way of ripening on the vine. When grapes have been fermenting for three for three on four days, you begin to see the style of the wine just in time to help it along. Each year carries wine that we have never seen before, their makings not in the year’s weather.

The character of this vintage will be similar across every territory of Italy: wines of 2016 will be smooth because the grapes were ripe; they will be gentle, because taste and color are coming away from the grapes effortlessly. We had no need to push and squeeze in the tank.

At 1,000 meters above sea level, this wine is made from century-old vines growing on a very ancient lava spill with extremely fine granules in our highest vineyard. It is our most rarified and ethereal expression of Nerello Mascalese.


Kerin O’Keeffe, Wine Enthusiast, 98 points: “Compelling aromas of Mediterranean brush, dark spice, pressed flower, graphite and aromatic herb draw you in for more of this elegant red. Focused and intense, it boasts great energy, offering juicy wild cherry, rosemary, white pepper and star anise, framed in bright acidity and extremely refined tannins. It’s gorgeous and already enjoyable but will offer a decade or more of exquisite drinking.”

Alison Napjus, Wine Spectator, 94 points: “An enticing red, graceful and mouthwatering, weaving a skein of fragrant spice and fine-grained tannins with a lovely range of brambly raspberry and currant fruit, accented by hints of dried fig, herb and rose hip. Firm and focused on the racy, minerally finish.”

Ian D’Agata, Vinous Media, 93+ points: “Vivid medium red-ruby. Deep aromas of red berries, black cherry, mocha, and exotic oak, plus whiffs of herbs and minerals. Intensely flavored, showcasing enticing sweetness to the red fruit and mineral notes, but the very lively acidity leaves a taut impression to the mouthfeel and its raspberry, saline and herbal flavors. A rather uncompromising wine as is typical of Rampante, one of the highest contradas that gives very fine grained and aromatic but powerfully tannic wines. The tannic clout is reinforced by noteworthy acidity levels (not surprising, given this is one of the highest contradas on the volcano).”

International Wine Report, 93 points: “Contrada Rampante is located at 3,330 feet above sea level, which is the highest altitude for viticulture on the northern side of Mt. Etna. This Contrada is over 100-years-old with vines planted on ancient lava spills. Due to the altitude, Rampante is typically the last to ripen. This certainly reflects in the wine, as Rampante is the most refined and elegant expression from Passopisciaro. It also possesses the highest level of acidity, which one would expect from such a high altitude. The wine itself is simply gorgeous, as it begins with clean, fresh aromas of red berries, cassis, minerals and hints of dried spices all taking shape. On the palate this displays a delicate, medium body, which is supported by fine, silky tannins. It demonstrates wonderful focus and its bright acidity provices a wonderful vibrancy heading into the pretty finish. Rampante is a total beauty and an absolutely dazzling, terroir driven expression of Nerello Mascalese, however it is the most restraint wine from Andrea Franchetti in this vintage, and will require some time in the cellar before it begins to show its best.”

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