Italian Indigenous Varieties: Carricante Bianco

Carricante bianco is a white grape variety that used to be widely planted throughout Sicily. Production of this vigorous variety has now been concentrated in the area around the city of Catania. In the US, perhaps Carricante is best known for the wines it produces on Etna. Etna Bianco must be 60% Carricante while Etna Bianco Superiore must contain at leas 80% of Carricante. I like the name Carricante, one of those words that rolls off your tongue and makes you feel languid, like a hot summer day in Sicily. The grape variety is apparently quite susceptible to disease and high temperatures and must be grown with leaf cover to protect its delicate bunches.

It produces a white wine with notes of white fruits and flowers. It can be blended with other white grapes or even with Nerello Mascalese, another common variety seen around Etna.

I climbed Etna back in 2003 after a sailing trip with friends around the Aeolian Islands. My photos are of course, not digital. It was an amazing experience and one I highly recommend. It gave me a profound understand of the soils around a volcano and why generally they make such superior wines.

There are many Etna Biancos on the market. Here’s a nice piece by Cheapwinerating.com about the area and some of the wines. I highly suggest reading it, even if you are in a cold clime today, you will want to go out and drink white wine made with Carricante.

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