A Children’s Project

This small estate on the northern slope of Mount Etna was recently established by Marco DE GRAZIA, owner of the nearby Tenuta delle Terre Nere.  “Establishing Le Vigne di Eli – Marco says – was effortless. A simple act of love towards my little daughter Elena (Eli).

This all happened in 2006. I was offered first one, then another tiny vineyard, both in exceptional crus: Feudo di Mezzo and Moganazzi-Voltasciara. I bought them and since the parcels were so small and fine, I was somehow reminded of Elena. Thus, Le Vigne di Eli was born.

MARCO DE GRAZIA and a CHILDRENS PROJECT

To use Elena’s drawings as labels came naturally because I love her art work. And equally naturally came the impulse to have this “child’s estate” be a help to children in need.

vigne-di-eli

Thus a substantial part of the small proceeds go to a childrens’ hospital, the Ospedale Pediatrico Meyer in Florence. With this, the “children’s project” came full circle.

Today, seeing the growing appreciation for Eli’s very fine wines, I’ve selected more tiny parcels of outstanding quality, contracting them, and releasing a little more very fine wine.

This includes a lovely Etna Bianco from a vineyard in Milo. And in the future I know I’ll surely be tempted by other precious little parcels. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

The Etna Rosso Moganazzi-Voltasciara single vineyard is made from a small parcel in the township of Castiglione di Sicilia. The vineyard stands at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level, the vines are over 80 years old, the soil is made up of volcanic ash with black pumice and volcanic rock.

Two parcels yield the grapes that go into Etna Rosso Pignatuni. From 2014 there will be a third. The vineyards are adjacent, the vines over 60 years old. The vineyard maintenance is organic and impeccable. The soil very much like a “little Calderara”: extremely stony, but a smaller, more pebbly sized stones, and at 650 metres altitude. Pignatuni’s wine stands to Calderara’s much like a Barbaresco would stand to a Barolo: it has a princely finesse rather than a regal authority. An elegance rare even for an appellation as elegant as Etna.

Etna Rosso San Lorenzo is made from 0,30 hectares of vineyard in the homonymous district within the township of Randazzo. The vines are over 55 years old, the altitude is 750 meters above sea level, the soil is almost unalloyed volcanic sand. We rarely produce more than three barrels. The wine from this cru is particularly rich, with very soft tannins, making it a velvety and voluptuous to the palate.

These three Etna Rosso Crus all mature for 18 months in oak and are not filtered before being bottled. The entry level Etna Rosso comes from a vineyard in the Savina cru, just South-West of Calderara Sottana. Not only has it the structure and depth of its old vines, but that ineffable identity that comes from a single vineyard. Good drinking indeed.

The Etna Bianco is made exclusively with Carricante grapes of a vineyard in Milo, just one hectare, at 750 meters above sea level. After cold maceration on the skins, it is vinified and ages in large oak casks and in tonneaux for 10 months and is released after 8 months of finishing in the bottle. However, in a recently bought parcel of Moganazzi-Voltasciara the estate decided to plant Carricante and Catarratto. Soon, therefore, these grapes will be blended into the Vigne di Eli’s Etna Bianco cuvèe.

Monica Larner has been writing about the wines of Mount Etna and the burgeoning redevelopment of this once old and hidden wine producing area. She writes in the Internationally renown publication The Wine Advocate and makes no excuses for the excitement she holds for the future. With yields much lower, holistic and more natural vineyard practices are being used to produce wines of great personality, elegance and refinement. These wines have the potential to age wonderfully yet with decanting, can be enjoyed in their youth.

Over the years, I have left my footprints in its blackened soils, I have seen its glowing snowcap against a midnight sky and have witnessed its fuming fissures and fiery lava flows. I have visited this wine region once a year for the past ten years and have participated in its amazing growth and rapidly rising status. I feel that I am part of the Etna wine phenomenon.”

LE VIGNE D ELI ROSSO

LE VIGNE DI ELI ROSSO PIGNIATUNI  2013   91-93 points

LE VIGNE DI ELI ROSSO MOGANAZZI VOLTA SCIARA 2013  92-93+ points