• 2016 Salvo Foti Vinupetra:  The Godfather's Etna Magnum Opus

    2016 Salvo Foti Vinupetra: The Godfather's Etna Magnum Opus

    We recently focused on Salvo Foti's Mt. Etna value knockout, the I Vigneri Rosso. Today we turn to Foti's top wine, Vinupetra. With so many exciting producers today on Etna it can be hard to pick favorites, but when the discussion turns plainly to the greatest red wine from the slopes of this active volcano there's no debate in my mind.It's Vinupetra. 

    Today, I'm happy to offer the brand new release, 2016 I Vigneri Vinuptra for $63 per bottle, along with a small collection of magnums.

    Vinupetra comes from just a single hectare of 100+ year-old-vines on Etna's north side. Simply put, it's a magnum opus for Nerello Mascalese. The north side is home to the most serious reds on Etna. At 2,300 feet these are some of the highest altitude vines in all of Europe. Massive mountain ranges form the back drop of the terraced vineyards, and the sea's influence is minimized as compared to Milo in the south where Foti sources his Carricante.

    The impact Salvo Foti has had on the wines, vineyards, and producers of Etna is a tough task to complete in a few paragraphs. He is the Godfather of wine on this volcanic landscape. His work was for so many years tied to other top estates likeBiondi and Benanti, serving as an oenlogist and vineyard consultant. But, in 2001 he began to focus nearly exclusively on his own project, I Vigneri - The name derives from the 1435-established Maestranzi dei Vigneri, a collective of vineyard workers who influenced the foundation of these magnificent vines atop Etna.

    At I Vigneri production is split between the white Carricante on Etna's Mediterranean-influenced south-east facing vineyards, and its very old vine Nerello Mascalese in the high altitude northern side of the volcano. Today, all wines truly set the bar for the heights now expected from Etna wine. 

    Foti's Aurora is composed of Carricante (with 10% Minella) grown in the village of Milo. It captures the brilliance and purity of the variety that's so heavily influenced by the sea breeze. At once its fleshy, honeyed, with notes of melon, pear, and almonds, but the driving vein of salinity is what ultimately defines it. All the components are in place to allow this to age beautifully, but current release is generous and seemingly holding nothing back. The exquisite balance and seamless contours of Aurora is what stands out in the end.

    Nerello Mascalese sees intense sun exposure, but the huge swing into low temperatures at night keep acidity very high and allow this to walk that tightrope between concentrated, ripe fruit and a disciplined frame of structured minerality. Vinupetra dazzles the senses with its transparency and ethereal nature on one end, and powerful concentration at the other. Wines that find a harmony between grace and power are not easy to come across. Vinupetra is more than the top example of Nerello Mascalese or a Sicilian red, it's one of the world's great wines of terroir.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen