We are on Mount Etna, nestled on a series of terraces facing north east and covering 11 hectares. Here, in the area known as Contrada Verzella, is where you will find the Cavanera agricultural estate.
The vineyards are ancient, some more than a hundred years old, with some younger sections created by replanting performed by the company over the years. They contain extraordinarily beautiful plants, the expression of an age-old vineyard planted by generation after generation of Etneans who selected specimens that would produce the best fruit and were best suited to the context of this singular land of excess.
Etna is a land where everything is over the top, exceeding all imaginable expectations. The volcanic soil is powerful because it is young and in geological terms, Etna is like a newborn. The fertility of this land is unlimited because there is an immense supply of minerals to which the roots have easy access. In the sandy volcanic soil, the roots can reach depths of a few metres, greatly increasing the absorption of nutritional substances needed for the vine’s production cycle.
Nature is so generous with its gifts here that the viticulture adopted must be capable of reducing excesses and achieving balance, achieving that complexity and elegance that have helped to define the style of Firriato’s wines right from the vineyard. We are in the mountains, with height differences ranging from 600 metres to 800 metres above sea level, close to a Sciara, the local name for a lava flow formed during the eruption of 1556.
The cultivation practices adopted are those suitable for hilltops and mountains but with latitudes characterised by strong solar radiation and much milder temperatures compared to high-altitude wine-growing sites in northern Italy or the European continent.
It is almost as though the mountains of the Aosta Valley or Trentino, with their traditional vineyards, have been placed just a few kilometres away from the sea and bathed in full sun. This viticulture is special because it is an anomaly in itself. A natural paradox of the wine-making history of Sicily that the Firriato firm and Di Gaetano family have engaged with, discovering its prospective value and the force of identity that only Etna is in a position to claim within the world of Italian wine-making today.