2015 Ciro Biondi ‘Outis’ Etna Bianco
Region: Etna < Sicily < Italy
Grapes: 90% Carricante, 10% Malvasia/Catarrato/Minella/Moscadella del Etna
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, fruit is picked in small boxes then pressed immediately and fermented/aged in stainless steel, unfined/unfiltered. Minimal SO2 added at bottling.
Winemaker: Ciro Biondi
Ciro Biondi, whose family has farmed vineyards on the south side of the volcano since 1693, is one of my favorite Etna producers. He works naturally, not because it is trendy, but because it is how his family has always worked. He avoids chemicals and irrigation in the vineyard, and manipulations in the cellar. Ciro (an architect by training) and his lovely British wife Stef own three vineyards near the small town of Trecastagni, where I had the good fortune to visit them a few years ago. We barrel tasted in the ancient cellar, walked the vineyards and enjoyed a magical alfresco dinner (and lots of great wine) in the Cisterna Fuori vineyard. There was an AHA moment, somewhere after the third or fourth bottle, sitting around the stone table, surrounded by ancient vineyards, discussing with Ciro and Steph the reality of living with the volcano – I GOT it, the wine’s sense of place! And I’ve been hooked ever since…
This is classic Etna Bianco – structured and savory, with smoky, flinty notes, and a subtle salinity on the finish – and more than holds its own with food. I love it paired with pasta with capers, anchovy and tuna – it’s pure alchemy when these strong flavors go up against this quietly assertive wine.