Catania, mid-April, 2019, in the morning,

Majestic a Muntagna “(the mountain) from rising” from the narrow coastal strip in the North of the biggest Italian island. The Locals also used the Name Mongibello indicates the top of Etna, the highest volcano in Europe. In classical mythology, and the Sicilian people, the regular, often very spectacular and sometimes dramatic outbreaks play faith a large role. So Zeus defeated the terrible monster Typhon – father of the hot and dangerous winds – in a fight, and the mount Etna on him threw. Typhon should since then be caught and the volcano, in his boundless anger again and again, earthquake and fire, Rock and ash, spit can.

powdered Today, perched on the mountain peacefully over the port city of Catania, with snow and its characteristic plume of smoke swinging. I’m going to be picked up half an hour late from a word driver to barren in front of my Hotel. As it emerges from Sicilian traffic chaos he thaws on the motorway, slowly. With over 150 things we turf of the legendary Tenuta delle Terre Nere, the Well of the charismatic winemaker Marco de Grazia. This was made known in the early 2000s, together with Andrea Franchetti from the winery in Passopisciaro, the Etna wines international. He had a significant share in the Renaissance of Sicilian wine. The Mediterranean island was formerly especially for cheap bulk wine it is known, is called the island today in respect to the production of quality wines in a train with the legendary Italian wine regions of Tuscany or Piedmont.

Randazzo, at noon

After a two-hour ride to the winery in Randazzo arrived, before driving at the same time four men in a Lancia. Our host, I suspect. Smiling, I greet the older men in their elderly suits. They look at me critically, discuss something in Sicilian dialect and shaking it reluctantly, my Hand. For a brief Moment I feel in a movie by Francis Ford Coppola added. As the photographer wants to hand over our welcome gift, of course, Swiss chocolate, can I stop you straight away. Meanwhile, Marco Ciancio and Christian Liistro are, in fact, from the vineyard showed up to take us laughing in reception. As Liistro leads the white-haired Shape in the Cantina, winking at me Ciancio – responsible for PR and communications and declares that it is the men, employees of the state, agricultural audit Commission. And on top of that, I learn that I miss my first goal, to meet the legendary Marco de Grazia,. He had to leave for family reasons, head over to Palermo, will be communicated to me.

According to these discrepancies, we enter a small parcel of land that has been acquired in the world of wine to legendary Status. This treasure is the second reason for my visit. On 140 year old vines! From a choice of drops produced, the Prephylloxera Etna Rosso D. O. C – La Vigna di Don Peppino is.


This place has one of the worst pests of the viticulture reached. This patch of earth was spared from the greatest disaster suffered by the wine industry, the phylloxera crisis. A unique combination of ash, volcanic Rock and a silicone component held in the pest apparently, to destroy these vines.

But how to taste a wine of such age of vines? With awe, I try this wine and get goosebumps. Highly complex, the noble plant shows already in the nose. Wild flowers, red berries and pomegranate blend with thyme, clove and white pepper. On the palate, incredibly fresh, with a lot of Finesse, a Burgundian elegance and an infinitely long finish. And it resonates with something Unique, an awesome Dignity and the realization of their own finiteness.

The third reason for my visit is Calderara Sottana, another Grand Cru of the winery. As I enter the nearly 650 meters above sea level, the vineyards, it quickly becomes clear why the wines have a unique character. It blows a cool Wind from the snow-capped volcano, the soils are barren and rocky. “Older volcanoes are born were gone, new. The Etna had covered after his birth, over thousands of years the whole area with Lava, and the previous volcanic Ellittico absolutely buried,” he explains Christian Liistro, responsible for Marketing. We are at a rare location, the soils on Ellitico-Rock funds. “Therefore, the Calderara Sottana is also produced from this single location. From 50 – to 100-year-old vines,” says the native Sicilians pride and pushes me to a stone in the Hand. Mysteriously, he added: “he is, but much brighter than the younger lava rock. No wonder, it was the Ellittico in front of 30’000 years.” After this exciting and complex Geology lesson, I want to know how this legendary wine tastes.

I will not be disappointed. Already in the nose of the Calderara Sottana 2016 shows beguiling. At the same time floral and spicy, with wonderful present tires notes of fruit, red and dark berries, fresh leather and flint. In the finish, all these flavor explosions to focus, with a peppery sharpness and halls for a long time. This wine is not easy to understand. He needs time to open. But then incredibly multi-layered and complex. Despite his power, he displays a timeless elegance.

Autostrada dell Etna, in the afternoon,

Intoxicated by the beauty of this scenery, the legendary hospitality of the Sicilians, the heady scents of spring Vegetation and the aphrodisiac effect of these drops, I go to the airport. With the certainty, of meeting the Creator of these wines in a month in Zurich personally. It seems to wave to me, even the volcano goodbye conciliatory – with its characteristic plume of smoke. Ciao Mongibello!

at the end of the 19th century. Century destroyed the Reblaus all of the vineyards in the whole of Europe. From America introduced, it caused the louse irreparable damage to the roots of the vines and destroyed in France alone, about 2.5 million hectares of vines.

A means was found, as American winemakers phylloxera-resistant supplied duck vines to France, which could be used as rootstocks for the French noble varieties. Therefore, one speaks of grafted vines. The scions be grafted easily on to the Rootstock and are not infested by the root phylloxera.

“Rooted” vines are no longer found in Europe practically. In large Parts of Chile and Argentina, however, the phylloxera is, until today, not a big Problem. Rigorous quarantine regulations, and the flooding technique in the irrigation and sandy soils up to now have prevented their spread.

Zürich, in may 2019

Marco de Grazia and I meet at the wine-merchant Boucherville, distributes its wines in Switzerland. The Etna Region is an “island within the island”, says de Grazia, with a Sparkle in the eyes. “Here it rains five times as much as usual in Sicily. Different altitudes, terroir differences of over 800’000 years, flows of lava, and countless micro-climates make this Region unique,” gushes out, it is the only way out of it.

Etna wines are crisp and powerful, sexy and elegant, but never opulent or vulgar. But they were just as Moody as some of his compatriots. “As me the other day a good friend came to visit on the estate, we opened a couple of bottles of a sweltering humid evening. It seemed to not want to unfold the wine, he remained locked and virtually untrinkbar until a few hours later moved the cleansing power of a thunderstorm over the island,” explains the winemaker. Today, we had a good day, his wines showed their best side.

It is difficult to de Grazia to disagree. As well as? The American-born son of a University Professor and an artist is one of the most influential people in the Italian wine Business. In Florence, grew up, he studied theatre and Greek and worked in a leather goods business. In the 1980s, he founded his wine trading and consulting company. He helped the Barolo wines of the Piedmont to new glory. Around the turn of the Millennium, he bought a vineyard at the foot of mount Etna, and changing the Image of Sicilian wine away from the cheap mass-produced product to a sought after plant among wine geeks.

And de Grazia would not de Grazia, if he would not forge further plans. Most of all he wants to learn the craft of the butcher and a circle. Meat is not only excellent with the wine combine, the butchers are also the suppliers of the raw materials for the production of leather.