Our tasting impressions
So, you probably have never heard of Corinto. For some, that is enticing - for others, not. If you're in the latter camp, please think again. Massimo sells out of this very quickly and with good reason. This is a truly interesting wine. It is very young, but already you can see it is impressive and pure, even if there is some oak and unbridled fruit obscuring its complexity. It is simultaneously soft yet intense and long but not tannic. I don't often include specific flavors in my notes but at one point, there was sweet & sour cherry and at another it was vividly (to me) blood orange. Both were framed by umami, which made it all so fascinating. A few more months and it should all start coming into sharper focus and then it will be ripping for about 10 years.
About this wine
100% Corinto Nero from the island of Lipari (north of Sicily, where it is generally warm and windy but with cool nights. The soil is sandy, volcanic ash that is deep, fertile and rich in nutrients. The 350 meter elevation vineyards(Caolino, Gelso, Lisca, Panoramica, Cipressi and Punta Piana) located in Piana di Castellaro were re-planted in 2005, using Massale Selection. Wine production resumed in 2008.
Handpicked grapes are de-stemmed and vinified in French oak barrels, maceration for about 10 days with some punching down. Then the wine goes into 500 liter barrels for malolactic fermentation and aging for at least 1 year before making only 2,500 bottles per year.
About the grape
Corinto Nero is a dark, thin-skinned grape that originated in Greece and Turkey before the Romans brought it to Sicily. Lipari is its principal habitat now. The grapes ripen early but are small and thus its yields are as well. It is quite robust and adapts well (it has been highly resistant to phylloxera).
Massimo's view of the vintage
The winter was very cold with abundant snowfall delaying bud break an average of about 10 days. Even during the flowering stage, there was frequently rainfall and cool temperatures decreasing the yield. Nevertheless, the grapes developed well, leading to veraison and ripening. Rain was persistent in August and September, finally relenting just before harvest (which was about 10 days later than usual), allowing some critical final ripening. The grapes are aromatic and well balanced.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Cru
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!