Arblaster & Clarke have watched the rejuvenation of the region as new estates appear in this ancient land, often reclaiming vineyards aged 100 years plus and are delighted to offer this special tour that takes in not only the very exciting wine areas on Etna, but also a rare opportunity to stay on the stunning islands of the volcanic Aeolian archipelago. Made up of seven small, inhabited islands, these unspoilt delights off the north east coast of Sicily are home to the Malvasia delle Lipari wines.
An online wine magazine recently asked “The wines of Mount Etna, wine’s next big thing?”. Vines were first planted on Etna by the Ancient Greeks and Etna, Taormina and Messina were major vineyards under the Romans who loved wines from volcanic soils with their strong minerality. Etna is a huge volcano and rises to around 10,000 feet. It is active and snow capped even in summer. There is water all year round and by 2000 feet up, the vineyard sites can be rated as cool climate. The northern slopes are the coolest, but there are also dry, cooling north winds. The southern slopes are warm and sunny; the eastern slopes much more humid. The lower slopes are distinctly warm. You can see a lot of terraces on Etna, many of them abandoned but gradually being recovered.
From our base on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna, we visit Barone di Villagrande, where we taste their Etna DOC wines over dinner. We are welcomed at the family run wine estate, Benanti, whose wines are world class including their elegant white Pietramarina and their Nerello Mascalese from old vines still grown bush style.
A day out on the Northern slopes of Etna takes us to a tasting at I Custodi di Etna to understand the various terroirs on Etna, which makes it such an exciting region. We enjoy lunch at one of the other trailblazing estates on that side, at Tenute delle Terre Nere, whose attention to individual vineyard parcels result in very appealing wines.
From Etna we head north to the UNESCO World Heritage Aeolian archipelago, where we enjoy free time on the main island, Lipari. We then continue by hydrofoil to Salina. We stay for three nights at a boutique 5* hotel owned by one of the most dynamic wine estates in Sicily, Tasca D’Almerita. Over dinner we enjoy a tasting of their wines from their mainland Sicilian vineyards including the emblematic Rosso del Conte.