Maze Row Tornatore


We visit Tornatore to see how the Sicilian estate is managing extreme climate events, and to discover more on the acquisition of a new vineyard

Tornatore creates wines using native varieties for a clear expression of terroir – this being the fertile land at the northern slopes of Mount Etna, on the foothills of Castiglione di Sicilia in Sicily. We caught up with Angelo Di Grazia, Tornatore’s winemaker, to learn more about the latest vintage.

During the 2022 vintage, along with most of Europe, Sicily experienced extreme weather conditions with an unusually warm spring and a very hot summer. How did you maintain the wine quality?

In Sicily, and especially in our production area in Etna, there was an unusual climatic trend during the 2022 vintage. To maintain the quality of our wines, we paid attention to the correct management of the grapes in the vineyard with viticultural practices and targeted interventions, such as to limit the impact of the great heat and preserve freshness – especially in regards to our white wines.

Can you share some of the methods you used to manage the extreme weather?

In the vineyard we tried to protect leaves and bunches from the heat and the consequent water stress. We intervened with kaolin – a white clay which, through its physical properties, reflects light in the wavelengths of the visible, infrared and ultraviolet, determining a consequent cooling effect on the organ (leaves or bunches) on which it is sprayed. So, we tried to safeguard the physiological functionality of the foliage and ensure an optimal balance between the technological and phenolic components of the grapes at harvest. This has allowed us to work in the cellar with uncompromised grape quality and without changing our winemaking techniques too much.

What can you tell me about the head trained pre-phylloxera vines that help you manage the climate variations?

The head trained vine, especially the pre-phylloxera ones, have found, over the years, the right harmony and balance with the surrounding environment, so they manage, despite the obvious suffering, to balance themselves autonomously and manage climate change in the best possible way. This with some precautions on our part with targeted interventions in the vineyard, as it is necessary to take care of these plants in a different way from the younger ones. The result is to have qualitatively perfect grapes, so as to produce a niche wine with unique characteristics.

Are there certain wines within the current portfolio that really stand out, and what distinguishes the wines from previous vintages?

All our wines shine, but if I had to choose, the Calderara 2019, Trimarchisa 2018 and Pietrarizzo Bianco 2022 stand out the most. The Calderara 2019 is the first harvest produced by the Contrada Calderara – one of the most interesting in the Etna wine scene. This was a balanced year in all the phenological phases of the vine and gave us wonderful grapes during the harvest, with which we immediately understood the potential of the resulting wine.

With the Trimarchisa, the 2018 vintage was a difficult year, because thunderstorms and hailstorms alternated between the months of August and September which led to a drop in production, followed by an important selection of the best bunches to take to the cellar. However, it is precisely in difficult vintages that the best results are seen. The Trimarchisa 2018 is a very elegant, fresh, rightly tannic, sapid wine, clearly different from the hot vintage 2017, which is more austere, warm, tannic and persistent.

I believe that in the future, the Pietrarizzo Bianco 2022 will be a wine that will reserve many surprises. Despite the difficulties it has had, it presents different and more complex nuances compared to the 2021 vintage, while still maintaining the characteristic of the Contrada, or rather freshness, sapidity and persistence.

How does the 2022 Etna Bianco Pietrarizzo DOC compare to the 2021 vintage?

The two vintages were similar from certain points of view, even if the 2022 vintage was certainly drier. So, the substantial differences concern the freshness and structure on the palate. The 2021 is fresh and structured, while the 2022 is rich and persistent.

Is there anything new happening on the vineyard and in the cellar which you’d like to share?

We have acquired a new vineyard in Contrada Santo Spirito from which we will produce the Santo Spirito, a red wine to add to our collection.

What has the experience of this year’s climate been on this harvest?

Thanks to the targeted and weighted interventions in the vineyard, we managed to have a quality harvest.

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