Instead of the indigenous Carricante, which grows on the eastern side of the volcano, Passobianco is made of 100% Chardonnay. When Franchetti arrived on Mt. Etna, he planted 4 hectares of the grape on steep terraces between 850 and 1,000 meters in the contrada of Guardiola, in very loose, deep, powder-like lava that is high in minerals.
Its complexities bring together the specific light, drastic changes in temperature, altitude, and volcanic influences of Etna, and the choice of Chardonnay was meant to allow these influences to meld and evolve over time as the white ages, inspired by the aging potential of the great whites of Burgundy. The harvest is quite fussy, as we pick little portions of the vineyard every day, tasting the berries trailing along the terraces day after day, harvesting only when each individual cluster is ripe. The resulting wine is rich yet fresh, bright yet layered.
The first vintage was in 2007, and beginning with the 2014 vintage, we’ve decided to let the wine pass two years in bottle at the winery before release.