We recently focused on Salvo Foti's Mt. Etna value knockout, the Vigneri Rosso. Today we turn to Foti's top wine, Vinupetra  ("a wine produced in a land full of stones" in Sicilian dialect). With so many exciting producers today in 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 I Vigneri's Vinupetra from 2015, 2016, and 2017.

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 backdrop of the terraced vineyards, and the sea's influence is minimized 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. For so many years, his work was tied to other top estates like Biondi and Benanti, serving as an oenologist 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. 

Nerello Mascalese sees intense sun exposure, but the huge swing into low temperatures at night keeps acidity very high and allows 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 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.

"Aurora" comprises 90% Carricante and 10% Minella, coming from rocky lava soils with rich iron content. Aurora is a dynamic white full of white peaches, melon, and a salty finish with butterscotch hints. At 12.5% alcohol, this really impresses in its refinement, delivering a gorgeous balance between textured orchard fruit and a chalky crisp finish.


"Milo" is comprised of 100% Carricante from a special parcel set at 950 meters above sea level.

—Max Kogod