Leticia Pantane from Passopisciaro Winery at WWWB

Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 07:30 PM

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"Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin."

- Napoleon


KILLER WINE from Passopisciaro

I really don't know how to say this but it is KILLER

Every once in a while a producer stops in whose wines are so KILLER that they deserve immediate attention and this happened yesterday as Andrea Franchetti was in town to showcase some of the new wines from both his Tuscan property and his new winery located on Mount Etna, Sicily- Passopisciaro. 

After trying the entry level wine from Andrea's new estate in Sicily a few years ago and determining this wine was worth further investigation, I ordered all of the Contrada wines.  This entry level wine entitled Passopisciaro was so unique I figured the Contrada or single vineyard wines would have to be mind blowing.  So I did something that I rarely do, I ordered them on the pre-sell before I had tasted them.  I assumed since they only produce 2500 bottles of each wine, that they would probably be sold out before I would have an opportunity to try them.  Fast forward five years later and today Mount Etna is one of the hottest up and coming region of Sicily so I was glad to hear the winemaker from this property would be making a stop in South Florida this season and jumped at the chance to introduce Latecia to our “Wine Drinking People”.


It was a real treat to have Andrea stop by with ALL of these amazing wines from this new vineyard site in one of Italy's coldest wine growing region.  The estate covers some 200 hectares with various vineyards up and down the volcano, the vines averaging around 80 years in age with a spread of around 500 meters from the top to the bottom of the vineyard sites.

This property was completely abandoned when he bought it he had to cut the bushes down with a chainsaw.  This was a lot of work and many people thought Andrea was crazy but others have obviously noticed the potential of this region as there are 60 producers on Mount Etna today.  They did have vineyards planted here, thus the old vines on the property, but there were not any serious producers even interested in this region until a little over a decade ago.


All of these wines were spectacular and to have Andrea himself there to explain the evolution of the estates and his career in the wine business was a real treat.  He began his career in the wine industry in New York as a wholesaler in the early 1980's and quickly decided that wine production would better suit his personality.  Luckily before he left Italy for New York he had purchased the Trinoro property in Tuscany.  He returned home to begin his project of planting the vineyards and building a winery to produce one of Tuscany's greatest Bordeaux inspired blends. 

After much hard work, trial and error Andrea gained recognition as one of the leaders in Tuscany and his wines gaining praise from critics like Robert Parker Jr. as he called the 1999 vintage of Palazzi “the wine of a genius”.  Franchetti was inspired by some of his friends like Peter Sissick and Jean-Luc Thunevin.  Tenuta Trinoro quickly became one of the cult wines of Tuscany and with only 6000 cases produced in total on this property the price was soon over $200 for his two top wines.

Although his success in Tuscany is what gave him the opportunity to do something in Sicily it seems that his he is much better suited to Sicily.  After listening to Andrea talk about Mount Etna it appears that he is more enamored with its people as well as the unique varietals that are planted there. 

I know that the first wine we tasting is made from the world renowned Chardonnay varietal but this is a WOW wine!  An amazing chardonnay and it may very well be the best value on the table as it rivals some of the best Chardonnay that I have tasted again this year.

Join us as we welcome Leticia Pantane from Passopisciaro Winery to Wine Watch Wine Bar for a tasting of all the new releases from this landmark Mount Etna winery along with the Tenuta Trinoro wines and a special menu prepared by chef Toni Lampasone.  The fee for this tasting is $125 + tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail andy@winewatch.com.

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Leticia Pantane from Passopisciaro Winery at WWWB
Thursday, February 15, 2018
7:30 PM

Image result for 2015 Passopisciaro Passobianco Terre Siciliane
2015 Passopisciaro Passobianco Terre Siciliane
Price: $34.50       Sale $30.36

(90 points) “Bright straw-yellow. Rich buttery banana and pineapple but also lemon drop and grapefruit on the refined nose. Then similar flavors to the aromas with a vibrant saline backbone and very good lemony bite. A lovely wine with just a trace of alcoholic heat on the finish.”  Ian d’Agata, Vinous Media,

Image result for 2015 Passopisciaro Passorosso Sicilia

2015 Passopisciaro Passorosso Sicilia
Price: $34.50    Your Price: $30.36

Passorosso is made from the grapes of nerello mascalese, blending across different altitudes and soil types. Generally, the higher crus are on a more gravelly soil, the lower ones in a deeper powder made with more oxidized, older lavas. This wine is a holistic expression of the breadth of flavors that Etna can produce with a character that distills this unique growing environment in a glass, reflecting the variations of each vintage. The wines age in large, neutral oak barrels and are unfiltered, presenting an interpretation of nerello mascalese that is bright, pure, red-fruited, mineral, and herbal.The first vintage was in 2001.

The Contrada Wines

The name Contrada refers to "Cru" in this part of the wine world.  All of these Contradas on Mount Etna lay on a single lava spill.  The higher Contrada are usually the best but they are out of the Mount Etna DOC, thus almost all of Andrea's vineyards are too high to be DOC wines so they are simply entitled Sicilia Bianco and Sicilia Rosso. 

Throughout Europe, the short length of the harvest alone shows us that the 2014 vintage on Etna is an exceptional one. By October 20th, the grapes were already ripe up to the highest Contrada, and the harvest took off in just a few days everywhere on the mountain. Emerging from a sort of hibernation in the cooler 2013 vintage, they had a forceful, energetic disposition the following year. Looking back across the 2014 vintage, one can see now the great success in the way in which the days and nights of the year provided perfect conditions for the vines.

There is this languid quality in the wines of 2014. In them, there is a massive quality, full-bodied with powerful aromas that hover just above the surface of the wine, instead of leaping out of the glass. Nerello mascalese darkens only slightly, and every year the shade is different. This year, the fermentation caused the dark grapes to slowly yield their special garnet color, while the yeasts were moving through the massive musts. After running the wine into the large barrels and cement vats, it will need months to become recognizable because the slow progression of the wine in the winery corresponds perfectly to the slow progression of the vines in the vineyards throughout the year. It’s apparent that the wine is dense, yet soft; it has the aroma of sandalwood, and each month it shows the same grand, free quality, which seems to defy the laws of gravity. The perfume of sandalwood in the 2014 vintage softens the more typical aromas of citrus fruits and camphor, typical of the lavas of Etna. It is in the mélange of these aromas in which the great luxury of this vintage is found.


Image result for 2014 Passopisciaro Passopisciaro Contrada Rampante

2014 Passopisciaro Passopisciaro Contrada Rampante
Price: $53.25    Your Price: $46.86
Quantity in Stock: 4

The Rampant Contrada is 1000 meters high and the terroir is all sand, the lava stopped here and created this plateau of sandy soils, picked later because of the altitude and thus is the freshest of all the wines.              

(95+ points) “Luminous red-ruby. Blood orange, raspberry, violet, licorice and cinnamon on the refined, extremely perfumed and very pure nose and palate. Offers compelling sweetness and a fine-grained texture; complex notes of faded flowers and truffles emerge with aeration. The vibrant, extremely long finish coats the entire palate. (Drinking window: 2019-2025)” Ian D’Agata, Vinous Media

Image result for 2014 Passopisciaro Contrada Chiappemacine

2014 Passopisciaro Contrada Chiappemacine
Price: $52.50    Your Price: $46.20
Quantity in Stock: 10

This is a lower Contrada at around 500 meters in elevation with a good breeze here.  The name Chiappe means buttocks, a bit warmer here so you notice a bit more ripe fruit, red cherry and plum, the lava here is thinned out at the peripheries of the volcano and the roots go down into the limestone so you notice the minerality in this wine is more pronounced.

(91 points) “With 4,000 bottles produced, the 2014 Contrada C (from the Contrada Chiappemacine) delivers loads of ripe and succulent fruit at the front. The bouquet presents cherry, blackberry and ripe plum. This red wine shows medium weight and a long persistence that is fueled both by the wine’s acidity and its firm, delineated tannins. You’ll recognize those volcanic tones of ash and yellow sulfur stone at the very tail end of the long finish. (Drinking window: 2017-2027)” Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, Monica Larner

Image result for 2014 Passopisciaro Contrada Guardiola Terre Siciliane

2014 Passopisciaro Contrada Guardiola Terre Siciliane
Price: $63.75    Your Price: $56.10
Quantity in Stock: 5

2012 Passopisciaro Contrada Guardiola Terre Siciliane
Price: $65.00    Your Price: $57.20
Quantity in Stock: 6

Contrada Guardiola is an old domain between 800 m and 1000 m asl, that was almost lost to the 1947’s eruption. It produces complex wines with rich flavours, typically of marzipan, orange and crying red fruit. This wine comes from a parcel of older plantings on the edge of Guardiola’s bottom.

Harvest October 24th and 26th  2012 Varietal Nerello Mascalese Age of the vineyards over 100 yeards old Vineyard’s density 8000 plants per hectare Altitude  800 mt a.s.l.

Surface 2.3 hectares Yield per Ha 14 hl Fertilization None Spraying Sulphur, copper, propolis, clay,grapefruit seed extract Alcoholic fermentation for 10 days in steel vats Malolactic fermentation large oak barrels Ageing for 18 months in large oak barrels Bottling waning  moon of April 2014 Production  3500 bottles

Image result for 2014 Passopisciaro Passopisciaro Contrada Porcaria

2014 Passopisciaro Passopisciaro Contrada Porcaria
Price: $75.75    Your Price: $66.66
Quantity in Stock: 12

The name of this Contrada refers to the fact that this part of the vineyard was a pig farm at one time, you see all of this area used to belong to the aristocracy in these parts and they had huge plantations and obviously a pig farm here. 

(94 points) “From the Contrada Porcaria, the 2014 Contrada P offers a steady and generous supply of dark fruit aromas. This is a dark and well saturated expression of Nerello Mascalese. This Sicilian grape usually offers a lighter and leaner appearance, but the 2014 vintage really does stand out for its deep color saturation. Like the other single-vineyard expressions from Andrea Franchetti, the wine ages in large oak casks for 18 months. The finish is smooth and perhaps more robust compared to the other wines in this series. (Drinking window: 2017-2032)” – Monica Larner, Robert Parker,


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Franchetti Rosso 2014
Price: $145.50    Sale $128.04
Franchetti is the top wine produced at Passopisciaro, a Super-Etnean wine of petit verdot and cesanese d’Affile from volcanic rock and ash. The grapes were planted in the early 2000s after Andrea Franchetti purchased the estate in the contrada Guardiola – a dense planting with vines 90cm x 90cm apart, at 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level.
When he came to Etna, Franchetti imagined a wine that would be denser and more concentrated than the lighter-bodied and colored wines of the local variety. Thus, while the nerello wines are “wines of place” expressing their unique terroir, Franchetti is a true winemaker’s wine, expressing a particular vision of the maker.
In order to create the kind of volcanic wine he envisioned, Franchetti decided to plant the late-ripening Bordeaux grape petit verdot with cuttings from St. Julien alongside the more aromatic cesanese d’Affile, a grape from Lazio that he helped to save from extinction. Due to the volcanic soil, petit verdot becomes more peppery and spicy, leaner and stiffer in body, still with great structure. Cesanese d’Affile is a gentler, aromatic counter to the petit verdot, with great aging potential.
Then he waited several years for the vines to come into their own, and in 2005, he released the first vintage of his Franchetti wine, finally able to see whether his vision could be brought to light. The result is a concentrated wine, black like the lavic soil and plumes of smoke that Etna belches forth. Franchetti himself calls it “the wine that comes from an attempt to make a completely different wine on Mt. Etna, to express what my image of Aetnean wine could be like.”

The blend changes each year based simply upon which grapes are the best from that vintage, wed not to any predetermined recipe, formula, or even flavor profile, following just the taste of the maker, reflection his perception of the vintage. The vines undergo a rigorous ritual of green harvesting, leaving only five bunches on the vines, and then undergo malolactic fermentation and aging in new French oak. Franchetti’s distinct style is apparent throughout each wine and each vintage, year after year producing wines with a richness, a depth of flavor, and layers of complexity, which are the hallmarks of his wines.

These are the plants that Andre planted in 2000, this wine is a blend of 80% Cesanese d'Affile, a roman varietal he planted it here because it liked volcanic soils and it is a late harvester and 20% Petite Verdot grown from cuttings off Franchetti's Tenuta di Trinoro estate in Tuscany. 

Tenuta Trinoro Wines


After tasting through all these unique and interesting wines made with WAGs (Wild Ass Grapes) we were on to the somewhat ordinary varietal wines made from the Tenuta Trinoro property.  These wines are anything but ordinary as they are the work of a very motivated and methodical vintner who will stop at nothing to make the very best wines possible.  I think that the Cupole di Trinoro is the winner here as you can see it is a fraction of the other wines in cost and it is of Excellent quality.  Sure the Palazzi and the Rosso Toscana are Most Excellent and they are much more limited and are made to be aged for decades rather than to drink today but I have to say they were very appealing on this day.



Trinoro Le Cupole Rosso 2014
Price: $33.00       Sale $29.04

Located in SE Tuscany bordering Lazio and Umbria, a bowl like valley, 600 meters above sea level planted in 1991.  The Cupole is a Blend of 42% Cabernet Franc, 48% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

(93 Points) Alluring scents of ripe cherry, mulberry and fresh herbs complement concentrated flavors of cherry and sweet spice in this red. Offers a backbone of mouthcoating tannins and remains integrated as the finish lingers. Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Best from 2018 through 2027.”  Wine Spectator

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Tenuta di Trinoro Rosso Toscana 2014
Price: $210.00    Sale $184.80

This is the name of one of the houses on the property, Andre purchased the property in 1981, then went to New York to sell wine.  This wine is mostly Merlot with a bit of Cabernet Franc,                           

“Andrea Franchetti’s 2014 Tenuta di Trinoro represents the vintner’s definitive shift to a more elegant and focused style of winemaking. This wine was once celebrated for its super ripe aromas and sweet, jammy flavors. But this cool vintage hammers home a new approach that sees less bulk and density—something Franchetti has been enthusiastically embracing over the past five years or so. The results are stratospheric. The Tenuta di Trinoro property sees pretty high average temperatures in summer. The quality of fruit offers special grace and elegance in cool years like this. Among the many samples I have tasted across Tuscany from the 2014 vintage, Tenuta di Trinoro is a memorable wine and a landmark achievement.”– Monica Larner, Robert Parker, 94+ points



Charcuterie Selection

Venison Pot Stickers with wild Mushroom Soy Sauce

Prosciutto Pork Loin stuffed with wild herbs lavender and Epoisses


The Fee for this tasting is $125 + tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail andy@winewatch.com