COTTANERA

COTTANERA

Sicily

Cottanera is one of the larger estates on Etna with roughly 65 hectares (160 acres) of vineyards on a 100 hectare (247 acres) estate.  The vineyards and winery are located in Castiglione di Sicilia (province of Catania), where all phases of production, from harvest to bottling, are carried out.  Resting about 700 meters (2,296 feet) above sea level over lava alluvial and clay soils, the vineyards are positioned in 5 different “contradas” (local districts) – Cottanera, Diciassettesalme, Calderara, Zottorinoto and Feudo di Mezzo – on the northern slope of Mt. Etna, home to most of the volcano’s best-known wineries. 

The history of Cottanera began in 1962 with Francesco Cambria when, as a retreat from his career in Messina, he purchased 100 hectares  

(247 acres) of vineyards and hazelnut groves near his birthplace in Randazzo, at the foot of Mt. Etna. 

Francesco grew hazelnuts and initially sold his grapes to the local cooperative, but with the implementation of DOC status for Etna wines in 1968 and a drop in the hazelnut market, he soon decided to focus his attention on growing grapes for bulk wine production, replanting the hazelnut groves to vines.  In the late 1980’s, Francesco’s son Gugliemo decided to build a winery to produce his own wine instead of selling the grapes.  His success in selling this wine “sfuso” (in bulk) to locals and restaurant prompted him to shift his focus to quality wine production, improving his father’s vineyards and embracing lower yields.  Gugliemo was joined by his brother Enzo in the new venture and thus, in the mid-90’s the first wines labeled as “Cottanera” were born. The name Cottanera comes from an ancient village positioned alongside the family vineyards, along the banks of the river Alcantara.

The brothers began by planting international grape varieties, but the focus soon turned to traditional Etna grapes, and Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Carricante vines were planted as well.  The Cottanera philosophy is best captured in a quote by Gugliemo, “In looking to the future we can but consider all that we have received.  Land, as I was taught by my father, is invaluable, as it is the beginning of all, and is what we will become.” After the death of Guglielmo, Cottanera is now guided by his brother Enzo and Gugliemo’s children Mariangela, Francesco and Emanuele.

Cottanera and the Cambria family endeavor to create a center of modern, innovative viticulture, with the goal of improving the quality of vineyards on Mt. Etna and producing wines that express the particularities of this unique territory.   According to tradition, almost all work in the vineyard (including harvest) is carried out by a team of women, who’s gentleness is essential in the care of vineyards and know-how continues to be passed down generation to generation.  Of the 65 hectares covered with vines, over 40 are cultivated with grapes destined to the production of Etna DOC.  In 2011, after changes regarding the production methods of Etna DOC, the geographic area of origin of the grape could be indicated on the label, highlighting the differences and singularities between the various Etna contradas, giving a voice to the wine and the territory itself.(247 acres)

Wines

Barbazzale Bianco Sicilia DOC

The Barbazzale Bianco is composed of predominantly Catarratto, the most typical, and widely planted, white grape variety in Sicily. As is characteristic of Catarratto wines, Barbazzale Bianco exhibits a pleasant freshness with delicate floral perfumes of wisteria and Scotch broom on a saline backdrop. Barbazzale is the name of the “contrada,” or wine district, in which the grapes are planted in the volcanic soil of Mt. Etna, lending a remarkable minerality to the wine.

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Barbazzale Etna Rosso DOC

The Barbazzale Etna Rosso is based predominantly on the indigenous Sicilian grape Nerello Mascalese, a dark-skinned variety that grows most commonly on the volcanic slopes of Mt. Etna.  This highly regarded variety tends to produce wines that reflect their surroundings, resulting in firm, fresh reds with fruity, herbaceous flavors, excellent minerality and an earthy nuance and an elegance and finesse often compared to that of Pinot Noir.  Nerello Cappuccio completes the Etna Rosso blend (as is typical of Etna Rosso DOC wines) lending color and perfume, as well as softening out some of Nerello Mascalese’s harder edges.  On the nose, the wine entices with aromas of raspberries, blackberries and wildflowers entwined with a touch of minerality.  The palate is fresh and aromatic, balanced by good tannins.

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Etna Bianco DOC

A pure expression of Mt. Etna, the Etna Bianco is 100% Caricante, an ancient Sicilian white grape variety, thought to have been growing on the volcanic slopes of Mt. Etna for at least a thousand years. Planted at high altitudes on the steep slopes of Mt. Etna, the grapes ripen slowly and steadily throughout the long growing season. On the nose, the Etna Bianco is bursting with citrus notes of lemon and cedar with orange blossom and jasmine. A full-bodied palate is supported by the marked acidity typical of this variety, imparting freshness and a long finish.

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Contrada Calderara Etna Bianco DOC

The Carricante grapes for the Etna Bianco Contrada Calderara come from 45 years old vineyards in the Calderara contrada, one of Etna’s most highly regarded Cru. The soil in this vineyard is a mixture of black pumice and basalt, the result of thousands of years of lava flows and volcanic deposits and enhances the typical minerality of the Carricante variety. Welcoming perfumes of lemon flowers, elderflower, chamomile, bergamot, sage and fresh oregano are intertwined with white peach and yellow plum. A saline vitality explodes on the palate, enhancing the wine’s supple body. This is undoubtedly a white wine destined for ageing.

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Etna Rosato DOC (Rosé)

The Etna Rosato is 100% Nerello Mascalese, from vineyards in the Diciasettesalme contrada, positioned just north of the volcano, with a mix of volcanic and alluvial soils. This highly-esteemed variety takes its name from the Mascali plain between Mt. Etna and the coast where it is thought to have originated. The variable volcanic soils of Etna combined with high vineyard elevations (some of the highest in Europe) help produce wines with immense character and complexity, and without the excessive weight that sometimes characterize Sicilian red wines from lower altitudes. The Rosato bursts with floral notes of iris, wisteria and rose, paired with the freshness of aromatic herbs. This is a rich, complex, flavorful wine that embodies the typical characteristics of the volcanic soil from which it comes.

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Contrada Diciassettesalme Etna Rosso DOC

The Nerello Mascalese grapes for the Etna Rosso Diciassettesalme come from the contrada of the same name. “Diciasettesalme” indicates the 25-hectare Cru, which corresponds to 17 (diciasette in Italian) Salme, an antique Sicialian unit of measurement. The lava-clay soil in the vineyard yields a wine with strength, dense tannins and an intense ruby red color. On the nose, mixed berry perfumes turn softly into herbal notes, such as mauve, thyme and juniper, interlaced with the mineral sensations typical of the variety and vineyards. Perfectly balanced tannins finish with a balsamic note.

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Contrada Feudo di Mezzo Etna Rosso DOC

Feudo di Mezzo is the largest contrada of the Etna DOC. Here the Nerello Mascalese exhibits an austere, dusky character with autumnal tones and a floral bouquet enhances by spice and red fruits. The palate is structured with rich tannins, destined for longevity.

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Contrada Zottorinoto Etna Rosso Riserva DOC

The Etna Rosso Riserva Zottorinoto is made from 100% Nerello Mascalese from the estate’s oldest (over 60 years) vines, located in the Zottorinoto Cru at incredible altitudes of over 2,500 feet. In this exceptional wine, the grapes express their deepest character with floral notes and Mediterranean herbs interwoven with red fruits (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) and spicy vanilla and black tea. A velvety palate is balanced by the noble tannins. This is a wine for the most special of occasions.

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