Tenuta di Aglaea
Making wine on Mount Etna
Aglaea – the youngest of the Three Graces or Charites as they were also known the three sisters, and daughters of the God Zeus. Aglaea was the goddess of beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence and adornment. At times she acted as messenger for Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
Aglaea is significant with all our sentiments for Etna; with what our wines try to express, and how they do so. In that sense, our wines, the wines of Tenuta di Aglaea act as our messengers from Etna.
The Vine & the Vineyards
An absolute unique terroir makes the vineyards – a direct consequence of Etna and its numerous eruptions since its volcanic activity began more than half a million years ago. The lava flows hardened layers upon layers, and ashes filled on top. The result today is a very porous soil that is abundant in minerals and extremely fertile. The vineyards are cultivated in terraces held up and apart by ancient stone walls 3-4 feet high.
The vineyards are located at the North side of Etna 2300-2700 feet above sea level providing for a relatively cool climate but with lots of sunshine, and light not least from the reflections coming from the sea, and the surrounding mountains with their characteristically high proportion of chalk. All the vineyards are planted with Nerello Mascalese, and trained by the Alberello system. The plant density is approximately 3,200 vines per acre, and yields at a very low 1.65 pounds grapes per vine.
Three Unique Locations
The miniscule and excellent vineyard Bocca d’Orzo (.75 acre) in the zone of Randazzo combined with Passo Cannone (2.5 acres) and Santo Spirito (1.2 acres) in the zone of Passopisciaro make up the 4.5 acre production site for our wines.
Nerello Mascalese is considered most likely to be an indigenous Sicilian varietal, and is found in a large variety of clones. In our vineyards, due to old customs, we find also a few of the white carricante vines. These, however are harvested separately, and the grapes sold off.
Nerello is a grape with unique characteristics and is genuinely capable of expressing its background. It ripens late and slowly – how slow depends on the altitude that automatically provides for a cooler climate hence longer maturation period. The consequence is a grape that can offer a very distinctive and elegant nose – a very refined and aromatic profile all together.
The grapes are harvested by hand at the peak of maturity – when phenolic ripeness reaches climax, when sugar levels are perfect, and when we taste the grapes and they tell us that it is time.
Here’s Anne-Louise Mikkelsen’s annual pre-harvest video of her vineyards on Mt. Etna.