Grottafumata, from Etna with love

by Marco Giovanetti

Grotafumata is the new wine producer in the Italian portfolio of celebrated Quebec wine importer Oenopole. This new addition is the cherry on the cake for an agency that has already the who’s who of Sicilian winemakers in Quebec: Occhipinti, Bonavita, Calabretta and Acosta.

Who are the people behind the project of Grottafumata?. This is the story of Mauro Cutuli and , Mariangela Prestifilippoa, a couple with a passion for making pure natural wines.

Grottafumata translate to “smoky caves,” named for the caves that were born through a river that passed by the lava and smoke of Mount Etna. Their winery is on the opposite eastern slope of the mount which is its classical production zone. Zafferana is the name of this area, named because of the yellow ginestra flowers that grow there.

The winery makes two wines, an Etna Bianco and an Etna Rosso from an incredible area called Monte Ilice. This is a very high slope on Mount Etna ( 45-degree angle and 700 to 840 meters  above sea level). The soils are composed of sand and volcanic ash.

I bought a case of each wine respectively. The white Lato Sud  is a predominant blend of Carricante and  Catarratto from old vines (40 to 100 years old). It trades for ($55, case of 6). The red Lato Sud is almost a Nerello Mascalese in purezza from vigne vecchie as well (10 % Nerello Cappuccio). Both of these wines are properly priced compared to their peers in the area and come from a tiny 1.4 ha vineyard area.

Last Sunday I happened to try the red one with my Sunday evening pasta. It was just incredible with deep layers of aromas. More earthy than fruit forward, it had a great smoky cured salted meat expression with fascinating roasted herb nuances. It has much more structure and weight than other Nerellos from the area yet with polished tannins and such a silky mouthfeel. There is no oak in this wine so you definitely get a transparent picture of the Etna terroir. It is good now but it is going to be much better in the next 10 years

I can’t wait to try the Bianco and tell you all about it. If you are curious about the rosso, you can get a case by contacting Anna Demay (anna@oenopole.ca)