Contrada R 2018
ABOUT THE VINTAGE
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.
2018 was one of the rainiest and most tropical vintages we’ve seen on Etna in the last eight years, especially at the end of the summer. This year, we had to increase the number of times we passed through the vineyards to remove leaves mindfully, avoiding any burning but allowing air to pass through the canopy to mitigate the effects of this wet and humid climate. We countered effects of disease with natural products like clay and propolis as well.
With the red wines, we found ourselves with rain, humid, and sometimes fog — not ideal conditions at the end of the of growing season, but knowing how to work our vineyards, we did not let ourselves be deceived and intervened where and as needed, like a mosaic, in the various Contrade and from the vineyards from which we make our Passorosso.
The wines of this year will be varietally correct, linear, with a pronounced acidity, with the long-lived characteristics that define the finer vintage on Etna.
Kerin O’Keefe, Wine Enthusiast, 98 points: “Fragrant and loaded with finesse, this gorgeous red stuns with captivating scents of pressed rose, violet, red berry, white pepper as well as whiffs of smoke and balsamic notes. Boasting extreme elegance and intensity, the smooth, delicious palate delivers strawberry jelly, raspberry compote, cinnamon and flinty mineral framed in smooth, silky tannins. Made from some of the highest vineyards on Mount Etna and 100-year-old vines, it’s endowed with bright acidity that keeps it superbly balanced. Drink through 2030.”
Walter Speller, Jancis Robinson, 17 points: “Palish ruby. Exotic spice nose with bags of minerals and iron and with a meaty undertow. Ripe cherry fruit lurking underneath. Sappy, lively and elegant red-berry palate balanced by a layer of powdery tannins. Ends a little racy. Long yet light. Drink 2021-2026.”
Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate, 91 points: “Here’s a classic “old school” Etna red. From the Contrada Rampante in Castiglione di Sicilia, the Passopisciaro Vini Franchetti 2018 Contrada R opens to a lean garnet color and light ruby highlights. There is a lot of energy and punchy brightness in this wine, mostly fueled by those distinctive white pepper aromas that come across strongly in this bottle. Carrying a shy 12.5% alcohol content, this red is lean and delicate to the palate, with more spice, ash and savory flavors than fruity tones. In fact, the wine’s dark currant and tart berry tones take a back seat in this vintage of 3,240 bottles. Contrada Rampante is located at 1,000 meters altitude, which is the highest elevation allowed in the official appellation (although many vintners are aiming to make wines even higher up the volcano). This estate farms a 1.7-hectare parcel here, and like the other wines in this series, winemaking starts off with a quick fermentation in steel (usually 15 days) and ends with 18 months in oak casks. Drink 2021-2028.”
100% Nerello Mascalese
1,000 m asl (3,300 feet)