The season’s drought, with no rain from May to August, left the broom, pine, and beech forests surrounding the winery particularly vulnerable to the flames, and the days leading into the fire were especially hot, with daytime temperatures reaching into the nineties: only the nightly drop in temperatures and irrigation kept the grapes from raisinating. We’d already begun our intense green harvest, leaving a selection of four to five bunches on the vines, when the fires came, set by shepherds to clear lands for their herds on the northern side of the volcano, and we found our production quickly reduced as grape leaves and bunches withered.
Throughout the fall, the evidence of the fires remained, not only in the scorched vineyards but also in the pervasive smell of burnt wood that hung in the air. Reversing the old truism, where there’s fire, there’s smoke, and the lingering odor of charcoal, we find, was inhaled by the grapes themselves and has found its way into the bottlings of our 2012 Franchetti, leaving behind an inky, smoky, dense nose that contrasts with the concentrated, ripe fruit on the palate.
“Passopisciaro’s 2012 Franchetti is 70% Petit Verdot and 30% Cesanese d’Affile made on the darkened slopes of the mighty Mount Etna. This is the original super Etnean wine that brought attention to this corner of Sicily in the same manner that Sassicaia put coastal Tuscany on the world wine map. The nose here is dense and dark with thick layers of barbecue smoke, dark fruit, prune, mahogany and cured meat. Here’s an interesting fact: On August 5th, 2012 a wild fire burned around the vineyards where these two varieties are planted. Smoke billowed for a long time even after the fire was extinguished. Because this was a dry summer with no rain for more than two months, Franchetti believes that the smoke aromas were absorbed by the fruit. Given the smokey and savory bouquet, this may be the case. The wine is aged in barrique for six months and then goes into cement vats for 14 months. In the mouth, this is a luscious, dark and fully extracted red wine. (2015-2030)”
— Monica Larner, Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, 94 points
“The 2012 Franchetti is a completely compelling wine from Andrea Franchetti and the flagship wine from Passopisciao. It is composed of 50% Petit Verdot and 30% Cesanese. The grapes are sourced from 1000 meters on the north side on Mount Etna in the Contrada Guardiola, where the soils are comprised of ash and pumice. Today, this shows a youthful edge, but still extremely appealing, displaying an impressive dark inky color with gorgeous aromas of blackberries, blueberries, violets, exotic spices, wet stones, licorice, leather and a striking smoky character which according to the winery, is due to the smoke of a roaring fire that rushed up along the side of the whole estate during the vintage. This shows impressive structure and finesse while possessing wonderful depth, focus and balance, with a vibrant layer of underlying acidity providing lift through the finish. Although still early, this already seems to be more impressive, showing more character with more complexities then then last years outstanding effort. Andrea Franchetti aged the wine 6 months in new French oak barriques and 14 months. 200 cases made. (Best 2018-2032)”
— Joe D’Angelo, International Wine Report, 97 points
2,400 bottles/200 cases