Tenuta di Passopisciaro

Tenuta di Passopisciaro is the Etna estate owned by Andrea Franchetti, one of Italy’s pioneering winemakers who founded the Super Tuscan estate Tenuta di Trinoro, before becoming instrumental in Mount Etna’s wine renaissance with his Passopisciaro estate.

Tenuta di Passopisciaro

About the producer

Established in 2000, Franchetti set about restoring an ancient set of terraced vineyards on Sicily's northern slope of Etna, located around 1,000 metres above sea level. The vineyards are predominantly planted with 70- to 100-year-old bush vines of the region’s native red variety, Nerello Mascalese. Franchetti also planted Petit Verdot, Casanese d’Affile and Chardonnay.

In total the estate has 26 hectares under vine, predominantly planted to Nerello Mascalese. All of the vineyards are located on the north-facing slope of Mount Etna at varying altitudes.

The main red cuvée Passorosso is Nerello Mascalese from the vineyards of Malpasso, Guardiola, Santo Spirito, Favazza and Arcuria. The higher altitude sites have predominantly gravel-like soils, whereas the lower sites are made up of deeper, powdery, oxidised lava soils.

The five single-vineyard (Contrada) Nerello Mascarello wines are Chiappemacine, Porcaria, Guardiola, Sciaranuova and Rampante. Each has a unique soil type largely affected by the age of the eruptions that have made the soil.

For instance, Contrada G lies on the edge of the lava flow from the 1947 eruption, whereas Contrada S comes from soils formed from eruptions in the 1600s. Each of the Contrada wines is named with the first letter of ts vineyard (so Contrada C comes from the Chiappemacine vineyard, etc).

Four hectares on the eastern slopes are dedicated to Chardonnay, which Franchetti feels is better suited to the site, rather than the Carricante which is more typical for the region. The vineyards here have loose, deep, powder-like lava soils which are very high in minerals.

Due to the high altitude, the red wines are typically not harvested until late October or early November. The grapes are hand-picked, sorted and de-stemmed prior to fermentation.

All of the reds are made are fermented in stainless steel vats before being aged in large neutral oak barrels for 18 months. The wines are bottled unfiltered. Since 2014 the red wines have become classified as Etna DOC. Prior to this they were all labelled IGT.

The Chardonnay is typically picked in late September, but the grapes are not all harvested at the same time. Each vine is assessed cluster by cluster, picked at successive passes through the vineyard, making sure the grapes are picked at optimum ripeness.

The top Chardonnay cuvée (Contrada PC) is barrel-fermented in large 20-hectolitre barrels and aged on its lees for six months. The wine is bottled unfiltered and aged a further 12 months in the cellar prior to release.


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