To produce the Etna DOC Bianco Superiore “Contrada Rinazzo” Benanti the grapes are hand-harvested in mid October, afterwhich they are de-stemmed and pressed softly. Fermentation takes place at a temperature of about 18 ° C in stainless steel vats over 12 days, using specific indigenous yeasts. The wine is left to mature in stainless steel on its own fine lees, with frequent stirrings, over 12 months. The wine then ages for another 6 months in the bottle before it is released.
Contrada Rinazzo is a tiny municipality of Milo, it is the only area permitted for wines labeled Etna Bianco Superiore, according to the Etna DOC rules. In this steep vineyard, composed of numerous small terraces with dry lava stone walls overlooking the Ionian Sea, only Carricante is grown. Vines are trained in sapling and supported by a traditional chestnut post.
The Benanti winery was founded in 1988 by Giuseppe Benanti, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur from Catania who decided to turn his family’s long standing traditional passion into an ambitious and challenging new venture. Wine had been produced by the family for several generations, mostly for private consumption, until Giuseppe finally decided to establish the winery with the aim of preserving the unique terroir of Etna’s volcanic slopes, whilst cherishing and developing the indigenous Etnean varieties. The winery is now run by Giuseppe’s two sons Antonio and Salvino who have continued the original aim to respect the varietal characteristics of the Etnean varieties, by adopting and maintaining a very traditional approach and philosophy. Describing their wines as ‘slow wines’, the brothers ensure nothing is rushed in Benanti winemaking; they are committed to producing only high quality wines from vineyards located on different slopes of Mount Etna, so as to highlight the uniqueness of the many different terroirs within the Etna DOC region. The family now owns vineyards in different DOC areas to the north, south, and east of the Etnean massif allowing them to produce an intriguing range of wines from the indigenous varieties Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante and Minnella. The area provides a unique microclimate due partly to the proximity to the sea, partly to the volcanic soil and also to the cone-shaped surface of the slopes which provide excellent exposure to the sun. The sea breezes and the altitude ensure the grapes are cooled in what would otherwise be a very hot climate, and therefore the ripening process reaches its full potential but, crucially, without being rushed. Benanti is considered both an iconic producer and a pioneer that has set a very high standard and has certainly inspired other wineries. With a history of 22 harvest seasons on Etna, Benanti has worked every day with an ever-increasing passion to perfect the presentation of Etna both as a land and a community, and its native grape varieties.