When you taste the wines of a winery that become one of your favorites, all you have to do is go and get to know that reality, who produces and, above all, where and how are produced those wines that become companions of your social moments.
So, I recently visited the Tornatore Winery, thanks to the careful guidance of the friendly Federica, who led me to discover the winery and its history.
We are on the North side of Etna, in Castiglione di Sicilia, where a great Etnean entrepreneur passionate and strongly linked to his land, gave life to his dream. I’m talking about Francesco Tornatore, who, after a long history of entrepreneurial success in the electronics and electromechanical industry, wanted to follow up on his family’s agricultural tradition, creating what we know today as Tornatore’s wines.
The tradition of the Tornatore family in the vine-growing on the Etna has, in fact, very ancient origins, dating back to 1865 and continuing with the construction of a house with the palmento in 1910.
One of the discoveries that impressed me during the visit was to see the old bottles of Etna Rosso and Etna Bianco, which the Cavaliere Tornatore produced initially for his pleasure and that of his friends. Only later was the production destined to the public, receiving over the years many awards from the most illustrious personalities of the sector, especially at international level.
The recently built wine cellar is very large and very modern; equipped with a barrels room which they like to call “the university”, where the wine acquires complexity and maturity. While in the “high school” fermentation takes place both in steel and in concrete.
But let’s talk about the territory! The vineyards of the Tornatore winery extend over 60 ha, at an altitude ranging from 550 to 700 meters above sea level, and fall into eight Contrade (district) in the Municipality of Castiglione: Trimarchisa, Bragaseggi, Pietramarina, Torre Guarino, Piano dei Daini, Pietrarizzo, Zottorinotto e Malpasso.
In some areas, the vineyards are the result of a large investment and important human work. Where before there was rock, today there are vineyards and 4 thousand square meters of dry-stone walls that are now part of the UNESCO heritage of Etna.
We start the tasting with Valdemone 2016, their Spumante Brut from Nerello Mascalese grapes vinified in white, produced according to the Charmat Method. Pale lemon-green colour, fairly fine and persistent perlage. On the nose, medium intensity aromas of green apple, white flowers, dill and white peach. The taste is fresh, fragrant, light and of medium finish.
We continue with their Etna Bianco DOC 2018, with an excellent q/p ratio. 100% Carricante from the vineyards of different Contrade. With a bright pale lemon color, the development of the nose is youthful and has a good intensity of herbaceous, white flowers, lemon peel and flint aromas. In the mouth it’s characterized by freshness and drinkability, balanced and with medium finish.
Their Cru among the whites is Pietrarizzo 2017 – Etna Bianco DOC, from Carricante and Catarratto grapes (2%) of the homonymous Contrada. It refines in 50hl barrels for 5 months and 3 months in the bottle. An elegant wine, rather intense on the nose with hints of apricot, orange peel and toast. In the mouth it’s fresh and pleasantly sapid, with a long finish.
The Etna Rosato DOC 2017, 100% Nerello Mascalese, is really delicious and fresh, alternating blackberries, cherries, gooseberries, papayas, flint and caramelized notes. A medium-bodied rosé with a fairly persistent and fruity finish.
In the Etna Rosso DOC 2017, which refines 6 months in 50hl barrels, we find a delicate nose with balsamic and cherry aromas. The taste is fresh, full-bodied, with medium (+) soft tannins and a spicy finish.
From the Contrada Pietrarizzo to 700 meters s.l.m. Tornatore gives us another cru, made in red from 100% Nerello Mascalese grapes.
Aging for one year in 25 hl barrels and 3 months in bottle. The Pietrarizzo Etna Rosso DOC 2017 is elegant, with smoky, raspberry and eucalyptus notes. The tannins are medium (+) and well integrated, pronounced red fruits flavours, mineral, long finish. Really fascinating!
And finally the Trimarchisa 2016 – Etna Rosso DOC – Nerello Mascalese and a pinch of Nerello Cappuccio (5%) from the homonymous Contrada to an altitutine of 400-500 meters a.s.l.. After aging for 18 months in 25 hl barrels, it keeps in bottles for 6 months.The nose is dominated by a floral and red fruit of great elegance. On the palate it’s medium(+) bodied, balanced and with great sapidity and smooth tannins, with a long finish of sweet spices.