Barone di Villagrande - Mount Etna, Sicily
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The Barone di Villagrande winemakers are young, fresh in spirit and energy, work together with enthusiasm, with the will to shape something new from the centuries-old roots of an estate on the slopes of Mount Etna.
They cultivate their vineyards on Mount Etna since 1727. Day by day the vines deepen their roots into the fields. With time the wines mature, and so do people on the lands. Their family has been honed by 10 generations on the Etna.
The story of the family is bonded with the Villagrande Contrada.
At the beginning of the 18th century the Bishop of Catania gave to the Nicolosi Asmundo Family the task to turn the harsh fields of Etna from an “horrific and untamed place to a delicious garden”. The Emperor Charles VI of Augsburg, King of Naples, bestowed Don Carmelo Nicolosi with the title of Baron of Villagrande.
The connection with the grapes became indissoluble, giving birth to the oldest vines cultivation story on these lands, that continues today. After generations, in 1869 Paolo Nicolosi realises the new Cellar for the winemaking and refinement, where for the first time on Etna, Red and White were made. Until then, on Etna as in the rest of Italy, only one wine was made from all the grapes together without any distinction of colour or variety. He thought differently. He wanted to make different wines aiming to valorise the single varieties and their characteristics, creating the ancestor of what today is the Etna Bianco Superiore.
In 1968 when the D.O.C. Etna was recognised, the first in Sicily, the disciplinary was written by Carlo Nicolosi Asmundo, enology and alimentary techniques professor at the University of Catania.
Barone di Villagrande wrote a fundamental page on the Etna wines history. The story is still going on. They are on the eastern slope of Etna that overlooks Taormina and the Ionian Sea at 700 metres above the sea level.
There, the climate is far from being Sicilian - the climate is Etnean.
Temperatures and precipitations are affected by the volcanic activity and the altitude. In autumn and winter it reaches ten times more rain than the rest of Sicily. In winter and at the beginning of the germination, minimum temperatures can reach values below 0° C being dangerous for the vines.
In summer maximum temperatures are never as high as in the rest of Sicily, and rain is almost absent. This absence of humidity is accentuated by the field’s slope, deeply draining due to its igneous origin.
The huge thermal excursion between day and night is a real blessing for these grapes as it reaches even 30° C. This results in a lower alcohol content compared to the average of Sicilian wines, with a peculiar richness in fixed acidity and extracts.