To produce the Etna Rosso DOC “Contrada Cavaliere” Benanti the manual harvest takes place around mid October, afterwhich the grapes are de-stemmed. Fermentation with maceration takes place in stainless steel at a controlled temperature over approximately 21 days, using only indigenous Etna yeasts selected by the winery after a long direct experimentation. The wine matures in French oak tonneaux for 12 months and then in stainless steel and then it spends about 10 months in the bottles before it is released.
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.