Sicily, a wine growing region since ancient history, has had a resurgence of quality since the late 1990s. Quality growers are abandoning the over production and bulk wine mentality of generations past in favor of embracing indigenous grape varieties and exploring new areas for growing. One such area that is showing great promise is Mount Etna. On the higher slopes, with volcanic soil and high altitudes, the hope is that wines of distinction can be made.
At the beginning of Mount Etna’s rise to prominence, Peter Weigner moved from Tuscany, where he had owned a small vineyard, to Sicily and purchased multiple vineyards within the Contrada Marchesa and Contrada Rampante apellations. Thriving off the unique climatic conditions that come with living on the hills below a volcano, these vineyards benefit from the nutrient-rich volcanic soil, a high elevation of 750 meters above sea level and all-day sun exposure. Under the tutelage of his father, Peter’s son Marco handles the production of the wines, using Nerello Mascalese, Fiano, Cabernet Franc and Aglianico.
Wiegner is committed to making wine that reflects the unique character of Mount Etna. All of their wines are made with estate fruit, holding fast to the tenet that great wine can only be made from great grapes. Ambient yeasts are used for red wine fermentation, while their whites are inoculated. The reds generally receive about a 25 day maceration and are then racked to oak and aged for 18 months. The white is aged in stainless steel for 6-8 months on fine lees. The addition of sulfur is kept to a minimum throughout and all work (including bottling) is done manually. The resulting wine is an expression of terroir, vintage, grape, and place.