ABOUT THE VINTAGE
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 /2,600 and 3,300 feet above sea level in Contrada Guardiola, in very loose, deep, powder like lava that is rich in minerals. We began making this wine in 2007, and it is formerly known as Guardiola bianco.
A late ripening year on Mt. Etna as well, the vintage was characterized by a decidedly cold spring during April and May, with a light frost over May 6-7. This persistent cold weather continued until the end of May without interruption, causing a significant delay in flowering, which itself continued until the middle of June.
June finally brought a gradual and constant increase in temperatures, with the chardonnay flowering first on the 13th, with subsequent fruit set, sparser this year. Then, toward the end of the month, we began to have incredibly high temperatures, peaking near 40 degrees Celsius (almost 104 degrees Fahrenheit); these heat spikes lasted until the end of September, allowing the vines to recuperate some of the time lost by the cold spring. This allowed us to begin thinning the berries at the start of August.
The Chardonnay harvest began later this year, on September 17th, and entering into October, we had an important jump in phenolic ripeness in the red berries thanks to a dramatic period in the diurnal cycle that occurred at the same time as the first quarter moon. This vintage brought about sinuous wines that are not too high in alcohol, with the right equilibrium between fresh fruit and vertical acidity, characteristics due to this final period of physiological maturity at the end of the winding growing season. A year of excellent quality since the rains spared us their odious inference.
Othmar Kiem – Simon Staffler, Falstaff, 91 points
Walter Speller, Jancis Robinson, 17 points:“Straw yellow. Concentrated, deep and alluring white- and citrus-fruit nose with hints of kumquat and papaya. Orange and lemon palate with bitter-almond notes on the finish. Long and a little linear and with plenty of substance. Drink 2021-2026”