Situated near the foot of Mount Ena on the Italian island of Sicily, Cantina Benanti has been family owned and operated since the late 1800s. Benanti is one of the most historic estates in the region. Bringing these electrifying wines to the global stage, Robert M. Parker Jr once rated them as “among the best made on the volcano today”. Monica Larner (Wine Advocate) goes even further, declaring that their Pietra Marina is “the wine that, when I tasted it many years ago, made me fall in love with Etna”.
Despite this heritage, this Sicilian gem has taken an entirely updated and modern approach to viticulture with particular respect and reverence shown for the island's rich, distinctive volcanic soils and indigenous grape varieties. The star of Benanti is rising among Italian wineries with its bottles increasingly sought after at home and abroad.
Decanter (97)This definitive wine of pure Carricante is given extensive contact on the lees, without wood, taking its structure from the grapes and terroir. Pale with golden highlights, it offers iodised notes on the expressive nose and an almost shy (still very young) palate that builds slowly in the mouth to a finale of energy and length.
Wine Advocate (90+)Although I am a longstanding fan of Benanti's wines, I have never previously reviewed this wine for publication (despite the fact it has been in production since 1994). The 2014 Etna Bianco is a pure expression of Carricante, with fruit from the East flank of the volcano in Milo. Vineyards here are located 700 to 800 meters above sea level. A second portion of fruit comes from Santa Maria di Licodia (at 950 meters above the Mediterranean). The wine opens to pretty and soft layers of stone fruit and pear. It boasts a very immediate, refreshing and drinkable style.HK$2,280.00
Vinous (91)The 2018 Etna Bianco Contrada Superiore Rinazzo is a bit understated, yet it still shows a pretty display of steely lemon, nectarines and tropical florals. This is soothingly smooth and round in feel, delivering a savory mix of wild herbs and orchard fruits, along with an almondy richness that lingers through the finale. It cleans up very nicely, as residual acids slowly fizzle out and leave a bitter twang of sour citrus.
Vinous (95)The 2015 Etna Rosso Rovittello Riserva is coy and understated, offering up hints of black cherry, dusty rose and flowery undergrowth. It’s silky yet youthfully dense in feel and quite savory, the salty minerals and spice taking center stage, while black fruits and grippy tannins come forward more toward the finish, and finishes youthfully dry and structured, allowing only nuances of currant and purple-tinged florals to resonate. This new Rovittello Riservais sourced from a small parcel of pre-phylloxera vines on Etna’s northern slope. After a long maceration, the wine spends 24 months refining in large, 15-hectoliter French oak casks. There’s certainly a lot of potential here, and it will be very interesting to follow the wine’s development over time.