Etna, in Sicily, is the highest active Volcano in Europe. It rises on the eastern coast of Sicily, with a diameter of over 40 kilometers and a base perimeter of about 135 km, occupies an area of 1265 km2, while its height varies over time due to its eruptions which determine its elevation or lowering. The most recent measurements have revealed that the current height of Etna is 3,326 m. Since 21 June 2013, the XXXVII session of the UNESCO Committee has included Etna in the list of the assets constituting the World Heritage Site.
The history of Etna is ancient. It began with a long and evocative geological event, lasting perhaps 500,000 or 700,000 years, which gave rise to the Sicily region and the Volcano. Its “maternal” character is best expressed in the fertility it gives to its soils. The volcanic ones are, in fact, extremely mineralized soils, rich in elements of vital importance for plants and, in particular, for the vineyards. Volcanic viticulture is a trend in great growth and expansion at an international level, but with great attraction and what differentiates and characterizes all Italian volcanic wines is, in fact, their origin from historical vines, not cultivated with an industrial approach. This type of viticulture is in fact called heroic due to the difficult conditions because it is practiced on particularly impervious territories. The processing conditions of these vines are extreme for reasons related to the soil, climate or altitude and notoriously the plots of this type of viticulture are small but high quality. That is why Etna’s soil makes Nerello Mascalese so valuable.
The soil originating from the disintegration of basaltic or andesitic volcanic rocks is generally of rather thin thickness, rich in skeleton, loose, very permeable, of a more or less dark brown color, generally poor in nitrogen, but with a considerable degree fertility, linked to the content of nutrients. In fact, the high concentration of potassium, phosphorus, sulfur and magnesium makes them in fact not comparable with any other calcareous, morainic or metamorphic soil. The soils made up of volcanic rocks also have higher macro-porosity values that allow them to store large quantities of water, even in the driest seasons. Volcanic wines, therefore, including Etna wines, certainly enjoy the benefits deriving from these natural characteristics. Winemakers are true custodians of tradition and ancestral knowledge in the cultivation of Nerello Mascalese. These passionate producers work closely with nature and make the most of the resources that the terroir provides. With their experience and dedication, they can interpret the unique characteristics of the soil and convey them into the wine, creating true oenological masterpieces. The soil of Mount Etna represents an extraordinary terroir heritage for the cultivation of Nerello Mascalese. The mineral richness and porous structure of the volcanic soil give this wine unique and distinctive features. The cool and breezy microclimate of Mount Etna contributes to the slow ripening of grapes and the formation of complex aromatic profiles. Local winemakers, with their deep knowledge and passion for the terroir, maximize the potential of the soil in crafting the wines.