Wine Culture and Information - Volume 12
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  Wine Producers Issue 15, January 2004   
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Benanti

The dynamic Sicilian winery has always paid attention to the revaluation of the great and historical vines of Etna. A noble work which is realized in the quality and in the elegance of its wines

 Wines produced in the enchanting area of Etna, at the feet of the giant volcano, have represented for centuries an important and prestigious factor for the Sicilian enology. Despite the difficulties because of the soil strongly conditioned by the eruptions of the volcano Etna, man has been successful in transforming the lavic landscape into one of the most rich agricultural areas of Sicily, and in particular, of valuable vineyards which have been capable of producing generous wines mentioned by many writers in the course of the history of humanity. Vine has been cultivated since many centuries on the volcano Etna, and its particular and unique climate has greatly favored the production of wines which have been renowned from the very beginning and contributed to the development of a strong and well established wine culture in the area. The wine in the Etnean area has always represented an important social and commercial factor. Around the year 1880, the province of Catania had the record of whole Sicily for having the largest acreage destined to viticulture and to the production of wine, about one million of hectoliters at those times.


Dr. Giuseppe Benanti and his sons in
their vineyard
Dr. Giuseppe Benanti and his sons in their vineyard

 The production of wine in the Etnean area represented an important commercial resource and most of the wine was loaded on ships and routed towards France, North Italy and in the American continent. In order to ease the transportation of wine in the Sicilian island, it was even build the Circumetnea railroad. The importance of wine was so high that they established at Riposto, a town in the commune of Catania, in 1886 the Enological Bureau and in 1881, by a Royal Decree, was established in Catania the Enological School, among the first ones of Italy, which today is called Technical and Specialized Institute for Agriculture, Viticulture and Enology. The fame and prestige of the wines of the Etnean area, probably known since the fifth - third century B.C., has been successful because of the particular and historical local grapes, of which many have been destroyed as a consequence of the phylloxera, as well as the favorable environmental and climate conditions, factors that are capable of producing high quality wines even today.

 In 1988 Dr. Giuseppe Benanti, continuing the ancient passion of its family, started a study for the revaluation of the wine and viticultural potentialities of the Etnean area, a study which lasted for three years and that allowed him to rediscover and revaluate the prestigious grapes of his land while making them among the most important ones of Italy. This certainly is one of the great merit to be bestowed to the precious and exacting work of Benanti winery, the will to save from extinction many of the autochthonous grapes of Etna and that for centuries have been capable of producing valuable wines. Thanks to the collaboration of wine maker Salvo Foti, as well as the common passion for grapes and wines of Etna, Dr. Giuseppe Benanti has certainly been successful in the revaluation of the historical grapes of Etna such as Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante and Minnella, a white berried grape which was truly in danger of extinction.


Dr. Giuseppe Benanti in his cellar
Dr. Giuseppe Benanti in his cellar

 Currently half of the grapes used at Benanti winery for the production of their wines are from vineyards of the estate whereas the remaining part is from vineyards located in the north, east and south sides of the volcano Etna, not belonging to the winery but directly controlled by Benanti in every single phase of the cultivation. These vineyards, generally having an average area of about one hectare, allow Benanti winery to have high qualities grapes coming from different areas, and in particular, represents a need forced by the particular environmental conditions of the area of Etna. In 1991, the first year of production, Benanti winery produced about 20,000 bottles of Etna DOC wine. In 1993, thanks to the particular and favorable vintage, the production was doubled and from that year up to 1996 the production has been of 50,000-60,000 bottles per year. From 1997 the production has increased up to the current figures of 150,000-180,000 bottles. The current production if mainly exported in the European countries, in particular Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and Austria, as well as in the United States of America and Japan. To these countries is included, of course, Italy as well.

 The main characteristic of Benanti is to make use, and first of all, to have really revaluated, the rich heritage of the local grapes of the Etnean area. In the wines of the Sicilian winery are frequently found noble and ancient grapes such as Nerello Mascalese, a red berried grape capable of producing truly interesting red wines of good body, Nerello Cappuccio, another interesting red berried grape, Carricante, typical and ancient white berried grape of the Etnean area, and Minnella, another typical white berried grape of the area. To these grapes are also added, although in minimal part, the international Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as the excellent Nero d'Avola. Wines produced by Benanti winery make use of grapes both blended together and vinified alone, therefore offering to the wine lovers the opportunity of tasting and evaluating the characteristics of every single grape.


 

 The production of Benanti wines is pretty wide and interesting. Among white wines are included Etna Bianco Pietramarina, produced with Carricante grape, which gives its best after some years of aging in bottle, Edèlmio, produced with Carricante and Chardonnay grapes, fermented and aged in barrique; finally, two mono varietal wines respectively produced with Minnella and Chardonnay grapes. The selection of red wines includes Etna Rosso Rovittello, produced with Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio grapes, an interesting wine aged in cask; Lamorèmio, produced with Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero d'Avola and Nerello Mascalese, aged in barrique for at least 18 months; Etna Rosso Serra della Contessa, produced with Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio grapes, an interesting and very good wine aged in barrique for more than one year. The range of red wines produced by Benanti winery is completed by three mono varietals respectively produced with Nerello Cappuccio, Nero d'Avola and Nerello Mascalese grapes.

 




Score legend

Fair    Pretty Good    Good
Very Good    Excellent
Wine that excels in its category Wine that excels in its category
Good value wine Good value wine
Prices are to be considered as indicative. Prices may vary according to the country
or the shop where wines are bought




Minnella 2002, Benanti (Italy)
Minnella 2002
Benanti (Italy)
Grapes: Minnella
Price: € 20,30 Score: Wine that excels in its category
The wine shows a pale straw yellow color and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and elegant aromas which start with hints of pear and hawthorn followed by aromas of pineapple, banana, broom, apple, peach and plum. In the mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp and pleasing round attack however balanced, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, pear and peach.
Food Match: Vegetables soups, Risotto and pasta with mushrooms, Fried vegetables, Sauteed fish



Etna Bianco Superiore Pietramarina 1998, Benanti (Italy)
Etna Bianco Superiore Pietramarina 1998
Benanti (Italy)
Grapes: Carricante
Price: € 22,50 Score:
The wine shows a pale straw yellow color and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of hawthorn, apple and pear followed by good aromas of pineapple, broom, white melon and pleasing hints of honey of orange blossoms and hazelnut. In the mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack however well balances by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of apple, pineapple and a pleasing crisp hint. Pietramarina ages in tanks for at least one year followed by five months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted fish, Fish soups, Pasta and risotto with fish



Etna Rosso Serra della Contessa 1999, Benanti (Italy)
Etna Rosso Serra della Contessa 1999
Benanti (Italy)
Grapes: Nerello Mascalese (80%), Nerello Cappuccio (20%)
Price: € 26,00 Score:
The wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals good personality with intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas that start with hints of black cherry, plum and raspberry followed by good aromas of blueberry, black pepper, violet, vanilla, licorice and a pleasing hint of cinchona. In the mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack however well balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, black cherry and raspberry. A well made wine. Serra della Contessa ages for more than one year in barrique followed by an aging in bottle of 12 months.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Game, Hard cheese



Lamorèmio 1999, Benanti (Italy)
Lamorèmio 1999
Benanti (Italy)
Grapes: Nerello Mascalese (34%), Cabernet Sauvignon (33%), Nero d'Avola (33%)
Price: € 19,20 Score:
This wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose denotes good personality with intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with aromas of black cherry, plum and blueberry followed by good aromas of violet, black pepper, licorice, toasted wood, vanilla and hints of cocoa. In the mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack which slightly prevails, however balanced, full body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, black cherry and blueberry. A well made wine that will give its best with further aging. Lamorèmio ages for at least 18 months in barrique followed by at least 10 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Game, Hard cheese



Nerello Mascalese 1999, Benanti (Italy)
Nerello Mascalese 1999
Benanti (Italy)
Grapes: Nerello Mascalese
Price: € 20,30 Score:
This wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and elegant aromas which start with hints of black cherry, blackberry and vanilla followed by good aromas of carob, blueberry, plum, tobacco, licorice and a pleasing hint of clover. In the mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack however well balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with good flavors of plum, blackberry and black cherry.
Food Match: Braised and stewed meat with mushrooms, Roasted meat, Game, Hard cheese



Nero d'Avola 1999, Benanti (Italy)
Nero d'Avola 1999
Benanti (Italy)
Grapes: Nero d'Avola
Price: € 20,30 Score:
The wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and elegant aromas that start with hints of black cherry and plum followed by good aromas of carob, blueberry, violet, vanilla, toasted wood, tobacco and hints of caramel. In the mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack and however well balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with pleasing flavors of black cherry, plum and blueberry.
Food Match: Braised and stewed meat with mushrooms, Roasted meat, Game, Hard cheese



Azienda Vinicola Benanti - Via Garibaldi, 475 - 95029 Viagrande, Catania (Italy) Tel. +39 95 7893438 / 7893533 Fax +39 95 7893677 - Winemaker: Salvo Foti Naselli - Established: 1992 - Production: 180.000 bottles - E-Mail: benanti@vinicolabenanti.it - WEB: www.vinicolabenanti.it


 Wine Tasting  Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Wine Producers column Events 
  Wine Producers Issue 15, January 2004   
BenantiBenanti Cellar JournalCellar Journal  Contents 
Issue 14, December 2003 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 16, February 2004

Cellar Journal


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  Wine Producers Issue 15, January 2004   
BenantiBenanti Cellar JournalCellar Journal  Contents 
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