Their Time is now

Gazing northwards from MOUNT ETNA, your eyes will fix upon the picturesque hillside town of Castiglione di Sicilia.

At 621 metres above sea level, it is considered one of Italy’s ‘borghi piu’ belli’.
It’s also the home town of Francesco Tornatore. Indeed records show that the Tornatore family have lived in these parts since the mid 1600’s. Here, agriculture has always been the mainstay activity. Together with the vine, olive and hazelnut groves have for centuries produced the principal valued crops. In 1865, it was Francesco’s great-grandfather who made the decision to extend the Tornatore family agri-business to include wine-making.

And so TORNATORE wine was born.

From their initial small holdings in the contrade Piano Fiera and Piano Felci, today the estate has grown to almost 60 hectares. There are still the olive and hazelnut groves but now almost 50 hectares are planted to vines. 70% are dedicated to ETNA’s native red varieties Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio while 30% are the native whites, Carricante and Catarratto.
As part of their holding, TORNATORE have recently developed the single largest vineyard in the ETNA DOC area. Covering 30 hectares, just off the Castiglione to Randazzo road, near Verzella, it is an expansive project using abandoned ground recovered from one of the volcanoes many historic lava flows.

A significant investment, TORNATORE have created a youthful yard with vines that are now approaching 5 years old.

Naturally this age is in marked contrast to many of the surrounding century old contrade. The system of cultivation is different too. The older contrade are cultivated with the traditional staked bush trained ‘alberelli’. Densities are high with 8,000-10,000 vines per hectare. Meanwhile in the new TORNATORE vineyard we’re talking a lower density of 6,000 vines per hectare, all trained with a 3-4 cordon spur system.
Yes, TORNATORE do have a few hectares trained in the traditional alberello form, but in this case, for such a large vineyard their view is that cordon spur with wider trellised rows will allow them to manage it more efficiently into the future.

What is additionally impressive about the TORNATORE winery is that their very first ‘own-bottled vintage’ was the 2014.

That’s right. Their brand new state-of-the-art cellar including bottling facility, which is now located under the estate house, opened its doors for the first time a mere 3 years ago. From the road, you’d never know it was there. And it’s equipped with the best of modern wine-making technology including tulip-form cement fermentation tanks and a climate controlled barrel cellar resplendent with new large oak barrels of varying sizes. Not to mention everything being controlled and powered completely by renewable energy sources. During the tour we had the great pleasure to briefly meet Francesco Tornatore himself. A genial and gracious man, it was his success in a completely different field, that of telecommunications (not vines), that created the possibility for him and his family to finally realize their hometown dream to expand their wine business.

Today, together with his son Giuseppe and the expertise of agronomist and oenologist, Vincenzo Bambina, Francesco leads a youthful and dynamic team. It’s testament to their efforts that in three short years they have cultivated outstanding international recognition for all their wines. Clearly their Castiglione ancestry stands to them. As indeed have the first 3 vintages – 2014, 2015 and 2016, ALL of which have proven to be excellent growing seasons.

– A Little Taster –

Etna Bianco ’16 – 100% Carricante – En primeur sample only –

Youthful straw coloured with delicate seafoam green reflections. Perfumed white blossom. On the palate the lively acidity is vital and the mineral bite is much appreciated. Nice balance for such a youngster. Bottle due for release.

Etna Bianco Contrada Pietrarizzo ’16 – 100% Carricante – En primeur sample only –

This single vineyard wine is Tornatore’s top white cru. At the same stage as the standard vintage, already it’s deeper toned in colour with a maturity that belies it’s age. Again white blossom but citrus fruit expands the composition. Its weightier body is well balanced with the tension between the fresh acidity and mineral support clearly giving this Bianco an extra gear. A short period of wood ageing. Planning to taste again after official bottle release.

Etna Rosso ’15 – Nerello Mascalese / Nerello Cappuccio – Bottle already on Release –

Thin veiled crimson runs to a Pontiac firebird flame. Scents of elegance criss-crossing, white floral fresh cuts & pot pourri, red berries & incense. Well heeled, fresh, zipped & lightly smoked, with cottonfield tannins, spice dust, scented ‘Med’ herbal woods, citrus red tarrocco zest & droplets of strawberry puree served on shards of coconut shell. All seamlessly held together by the invisible… we had longer to think about this one :)

Just a quick guide:

When in your local restaurant, bottle store or on-line looking out for TORNATORE or any other ETNA ROSSO, ETNA BIANCO or ETNA ROSATO wine, it’s helpful to understand the difference between, let’s call it the producers ‘vintage Cuvée’ (which may use grapes from their various vineyards) and then their Single Vineyard ‘Contrada’ wines which obviously are produced from fruit sourced in one unique vineyard (aka Contrada). The vintage Cuvée will generally always be released first and as a general indicator, you could say releases will follow:
*ETNA BIANCO from 7-12 months after harvest.
*ETNA ROSATO from 7-12 months after harvest
*ETNA ROSSO from 15 months after harvest
And these wines will generally be labelled without any specific vineyard/contrada name.

On the other hand, for an ETNA BIANCO Contrada selection, with single vineyard name, these will generally begin release from 12 -15 months after the harvest.
An ETNA ROSSO Contrada selection, with single vineyard name will generally begin release from 24 months after the harvest. So, just for an active example, most of the ‘2015 ETNA ROSSO Contrade’ are infact only being bottled as we speak in 2017.

For all TORNATORE wines, their ART DECO stylised labelling is super clear. At the moment, their two principle contrade / single vineyards to watch out for are PIETRARIZZO (for both ETNA ROSSO & BIANCO) and TRIMARCHISA (only ROSSO). But as we mentioned already, their new vineyard research work has only just begun. We’ve no doubt other single vineyard Contrade wines will be added to their selection in time.

TORNATORE wines are justifiably amongst the finest of ETNA’s new releases…

… and Their Time is Now!

For all the TORNATORE crew, Francesco, Giuseppe, Vincenzo, Iacopo, Letizia, Nawal & Giuseppe, we dedicate a little vintage 2000 from MOLOKO.

Cin cin !

MOLOKO – ‘The Time is Now’

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