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The Trouble with Etna

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The Trouble with Etna

If you hear the hype you might believe that the magical volcano on the northeast of Sicily, home of majestic nerello mascalese from sentimental terraced vines, delivers nothing but wine worthy of Zeus’s thunderbolts. But hold on. Not so fast. You’ll have to look behind the bluster, the money and the glitz to find the real wines and a complex story of people still trying to work out the kinks in channeling the dirt’s basalt juice into the glass.

Before Pascaline and I traveled up to Mount Etna we stayed with Arianna Occhipinti in Vittoria. More on her in the next issue, but meanwhile, driving through the unruly orange trees lining her property, we arrived hungry. Luckily she was about to start making a lemon-scented pasta dish. She and her boyfriend Eduardo Torres, a man from Tenerife, had a tough morning; they had just finished bottling his first wine made from our next stop, Etna. He had done all of the vinification at Arianna’s, almost 2 hours away from his vines. Not having his own cantina, he didn’t want to rent space in someone else’s.