"We are certainly very satisfied and we think we can obtain high quality wines from the 2020 vintage" comments Antonio Benanti, President of the Consortium for the Protection of Etna DOC wines . "The territory of Etna is heterogeneous by nature. I am not referring only to the effect that the lava flows, over time, have had in the creation of many extraordinary differences and nuances even on land that is very close to each other. Here the vineyards, rigorously of native varieties, they extend at variable altitudes, from 400 to over 1000 meters, and on different slopes, with very peculiar microclimates. Net of this extraordinary variety that distinguishes us, this year we have been able to find some objective aspects, present almost everywhere, which make us think of a vintage capable of giving wines of remarkable balance and elegance. Aspects that often characterize Etna wines, but which we believe will be particularly accentuated this year " .
The Etna harvest began in the second half of September with the harvest of the first grapes for the sparkling wine bases and ended, among the last in Italy, at the end of October with the two red grape varieties, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. "A first aspect to underline is that, apart from individual and limited cases, we have not recorded any damage due to hail or frost - continues Antonio Benanti -. It is not such a foregone conclusion" .
The ripening of the grapes was generally regular and, even considering the peculiarities of each variety, the different altitudes and characteristics of the four sides, certainly excellent. "On average, the white grape varieties, starting from Carricante, ripened later than in other years on the four sides of Etna. The red grapes, on the other hand, had a more regular ripening and a classic harvest date" .
Although it is still too early to provide data in this sense, the 2020 harvest seems to be satisfactory also from a quantitative point of view. "The harvest has just ended and therefore it is premature to provide estimates on volumes. The first impression is of an excellent year in all respects, and this is good news considering that a very complicated year is about to end due to the ongoing health emergency caused by the pandemic " says the Director of the Consortium, Maurizio Lunetta .
Going into the details of the different slopes of Etna, there is no lack of confirmation about the quality of the harvest just ended, but at the same time the photograph of the many differences present within a denomination rich in facets. "It is certainly a vintage that we feel we can define as excellent" comments Margherita Platania, producer on the South-West side, with vineyards located at an altitude of 1000 meters . "The initial phase of the season was slightly earlier, but in general we recorded a regular ripening trend. The climatic conditions of this side, with more hours of solar radiation and large temperature variations between day and night, excellent ventilation and scarcity of rain, allowed us to extend the start date of the harvest and thus obtain a slow and perfect ripening of the grapes, including skins and pips. We are satisfied, the grapes promise great things " .
Moving to the South-East , an area that benefits from both the influence of the sea and an excellent brightness, we find the ideal conditions for the cultivation of both Nerello Mascalese and Carricante, the comment remains positive. "The ripening of the grapes was very balanced, with the white berried grapes delayed by about ten days compared to usual, so much so that we harvested them together with the red berried ones" explains this time Fabio Costantino, producer with vineyards positioned between 500 and 600 meters above sea level . "This year the growth of the vegetative part both in the field and on the vine has been decidedly abundant: a sign that highlights a great well-being of the plant and that made it necessary to take even more careful care in the vineyard" .
The east side, set between the volcano and the sea with often very steep vineyards, is characterized by the preponderant presence of Carricante, which here takes on notes of freshness and incisiveness of particular distinctiveness. "It was a vintage that we do not find it difficult to judge as very beautiful, both from a qualitative and quantitative point of view" explains Fabio Percolla, with vineyards located 900 meters above the sea . "The weather, this year, was an excellent travel companion: we brought very healthy grapes to the cellar which, if desired, could have remained even longer on the plant. The rainfall, typically present on this side, which is concentrated above all in the period in October and November, this year it was less present and allowed us to harvest with greater serenity " .
Finally, on the north side, traditionally recognized as the main area for Nerello Mascalese and where, at the highest altitudes, the last DOC vineyards are usually harvested, the watchwords are balance, depth and freshness. "The 2020 vintage can be considered more than satisfactory, with peaks of absolute excellence in the crus" comments the producer Marco De Grazia, from his vineyards located between 600 and 1000 meters above sea level . "The vintage was characterized by a cool and rainy spring followed by a summer with few heat peaks in mid-August. As a result, we recorded a considerable delay in veraison and maturation in general, both of the Carricante and of the Nerello Mascalese. Finally, a surprisingly mild October, accompanied by an extraordinary vegetative richness, allowed us a slow and long ripening and in the end very healthy grapes " .
"We are confident, it is a harvest that allows us to make very healthy grapes with all the necessary characteristics, on all sides, to obtain wines of great balance and finesse", concludes President Benanti.