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Carricante

The Carricante grape, which is a leading variety on the slopes of Mount Etna, always manages to produce intense, well-structured and long-lived wines. Its name comes from the abundant and generous production it has been providing for centuries to the Sicilian farmers who grow it, to the extent of "filling the cart". Very popular in the past, it is now grown mainly in the higher altitudes of the Sicilian region in order to take advantage of the temperature range and wind to generate greater aromaticity in the grapes. Freshness and sapidity characterise the white wine it produces, which has a full, vibrant flavour and a complex aromatic profile that ranges from apple and orange blossom to aniseed. Today, this typical island speciality takes a leading role in the cultural and artistic renaissance of quality winemaking in Sicily.

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The Carricante grape, which is a leading variety on the slopes of Mount Etna, always manages to produce intense, well-structured and long-lived wines. Its name comes from the abundant and generous production it has been providing for centuries to the Sicilian farmers who grow it, to the extent of "filling the cart". Very popular in the past, it is now grown mainly in the higher altitudes of the Sicilian region in order to take advantage of the temperature range and wind to generate greater aromaticity in the grapes. Freshness and sapidity characterise the white wine it produces, which has a full, vibrant flavour and a complex aromatic profile that ranges from apple and orange blossom to aniseed. Today, this typical island speciality takes a leading role in the cultural and artistic renaissance of quality winemaking in Sicily.

The Habitat of the Carricante Grape on Steep Volcanic Slopes

The Carricante grape is an ancient white variety that has been grown in Sicily since the dawn of time. It was given this name a few hundred years ago by the farmers of Viagrande, in the hills around Catania, probably because of its great productivity, which made it easy to "fill the cart". These farmers were the first to identify it and select clones, spreading it throughout the territory. It is probable, however, that the variety arrived in the Catania area from the Calabria region, where it was probably brought by Greek ships in ancient times. The archeologist Domenico Sestini described in his 1774 'Memorie di vini siciliani' (Memoirs of Sicilian Wines) the tradition of Etna winegrowers of allowing white wine to age on the lees in wooden barrels so that malolactic fermentation could take place in spring. This practice is still used today to produce the best and most intense Carricante wines, which are very often aged on the fine lees in oak barrels. Since the end of the 19th century, the vine has spread to many areas of the island, particularly in the provinces of Agrigento, Ragusa and Caltanissetta, although it has always been associated with the Catania area. Today it is cultivated mainly on the highest slopes of the Etna, where it produces the prestigious and complex Etna Bianco. Its most suitable territory is particularly in the highest areas of the eastern slope of the volcano, between 750 and 950 metres above sea level. Due to the cold and not very sunny climate, the Nerello Mascalese grapes struggle to ripen here, while the white grapes reach their maximum expression. The best vineyards are located in the districts of the municipality of Milo: the centuries-old alberello-trained vines, arranged on steep terraces, live here alongside woods and orchards. The volcanic nature of the soil, the cold, harsh climate all year round and the significant temperature excursions allow the vine to acquire that freshness and minerality which are typical of the category, expressing itself in the glass with innate elegance and offering great ageing potential.


The Characteristics of a Volcanic White Wine

Energy, strength, vitality, minerality, freshness and great ageing potential are the distinguishing features of this wine. It is to all intents and purposes one of the noblest Sicilian wines, known and loved all over the world. Mario Soldati described its fresh and mineral character, at times harsh, as "it gathers and blends, in its freshness and in its hidden vein of smokiness, the perennial snows of the summit and the fire of the volcano". Nothing can illustrate the characteristics of this noble white better than this evocative description. It is not an aromatic grape variety, although the composition of its molecules favours the development of complex, hydrocarbon aromas over time. The grape has an important fixed acidity, consisting mainly of malic acid, which is why many producers favour the completion of malolactic fermentation. This rounds off and softens the striking freshness of the grape variety. The volcanic soils are mainly responsible for the rich minerality of this type, which is characterised, as Mario Soldati notes, by characteristic saline and smoky notes. Together with these, it is easy to find hints of honey, orange blossom, citrus, ripe white fruit and aromatic herbs. This dense mineral texture, combined with a typical vibrant freshness, guarantees a long ageing potential. In the best of cases it may even brilliantly exceed ten years of ageing.


Rural Traditions and Aristocratic Achievements

The enological and cultural renaissance of Sicily in recent decades has led to the enhancement of this ancient island grape variety. From the rediscovery of the most authentic farming traditions, many wineries are now producing noble and aristocratic expressions, equipped with complexity, richness and elegance. Not only the great producers are the creators of this rediscovery, but also the small artisan winemakers, who are the custodians of a heritage of age-old expertise. Alongside the more famous and emblazoned expressions such as Carricante Planeta, there are other smaller Etna Bianco productions by wineries such as Vivera and Tenuta di Fessina. The best pairings for this wine are with fish. The freshness and minerality of this white wine make it a perfect match for prawns, shellfish, seafood, grilled and fried food. Savoury vegetable dishes such as pasta dishes, savoury pies or aubergine parmigiana are excellent alternatives. The more developed, aged and structured expressions can also be paired with spicy white meats or medium-aged cheeses.

Discover the great selection of this type of wine on offer on the Callmewine online wine store. Here you can find Carricante for sale online at a very special price, together with the detailed advice and descriptions of our expert sommeliers.