Our tasting impressions
The maiden voyage for this wine and it is a mighty impressive effort. There's lots of mineral and fall fruits on the nose. Indeed, it's drinking very young. It is weightier than anticipated but not at all heavy. There is a fascinating juxtaposition of creaminess and zing (thanks to just 12.5° alcohol). Loads of white fruit flavors overlaid with tons of minerals (Go Lava!) and a brininess that frames it and makes this wine oh so appetizing . It has real gravitas that will make it interesting to track through its evolution. Typically, top-notch Carricante can age well for about 10 years. Hard to imagine but Massimo, no doubt, will get even better with this wine in time.
About this wine
100% Carricante from the Gabelle vineyard on the northern slope of Randazzo on Mount Etna in the Contrada of Calderara Sottana. At 600 meters, there is significant temperature variations between day and night. The soil in the lower part is alluvial stony while in the upper part, it is sandy, rich in lava blocks and volcanic deposits.
The vines are trained in the alberello system. Harvesting is by hand with careful selection of bunches. A short cold maceration precedes a soft pressing of the bunches of grapes. This is followed by a static decanting at 10-12°C to clear the must. Fermentation is at 16-18°C in steel tanks with bâtonnage and lees contact for about 6 months. Then it rests in bottle for another 3 months before release. About 4,200 bottles were produced of this first-time offering from Massimo Lentsch.
About the grape
Ancient lore indicates that the Greeks brought Carricante to Sicily in the 8th century BC. The late ripening grape grow in abundance (Carricante translates to load) so green harvesting is key to achieving concentration. Low alcohol and high acidity are typical. In the past, it was blended with grapes like Catarratto, but Etna winemakers have come to realize Carricante's great potential as a varietal wine.
Massimo's view of the vintage
In all seasons of the 2020 vintage there was typical progression of vegetation and ripening. It is one of those vintages in which it is sufficient to simply observe the evolution of Nature, and accompany it until the days of the harvest. The climatic conditions on the Northern slope, always well ventilated and sheltered from excessive rainfall, allowed slow and perfect ripening of the grapes, including skins and pips. An excellent vintage.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Liberté
Massimo Lentsch is atypical among the winemakers in the VDLT Community, as he was not born into grape farming. He had a successful export business, which included a major wine estate. But always, wine was a passion. He discovered Lipari, the largest of the Aeolian Islands, north of Sicily during a sailing excursion. He decided immediately to establish Tenuta di Castellaro in 2005. His wines from 20ha of vineyards have become widely admired.
In 2018, he created another Azienda in Etna. Though nearby, and similarly volcanic, they are widely divergent - and Etna is a much more competitive region. The new estate, which bears his name, is 10.4ha on the slopes of Mount Etna, in the Province of Catania. It is in the communes of Castiglione di Sicilia and Randazzo, in the Contrade (Districts) of Feudo di Mezzo, Caldera Sottana, Chiusa Politi and Pianodario.
His vineyards are at high elevations so they are rich in volcanic soil. They are organically farmed, mostly by hand. In keeping with his commitment to local traditions, Massimo employs the head-trained system in Lipari and the Albarello training system in Etna to manage his vines. Amazingly, harvesting is considered on a per-vine basis.
Massimo’s passion and dedication are palpable. He blends respect for the past with entrepreneurship to produce wonderfully terroir-driven, yet distinct wines. It seems like there is no stopping him!