Territories & Wineries
PLANETA, A WINE JOURNEY THROUGH SICILY
Flavour, magazine – London
by Angela Mount
Planeta – probably the most visionary wine company in Sicily and widely considered responsible for putting Sicilian quality wines on the map! Their innovative experiments and challenges with grape varieties, soil types, styles of winemaking and sub-regions, have made the family-run wine business a real pioneer and respected leader in the drive to improve the quality and perception of what Sicilian wine scan truly deliver. With their origins in south west Sicily, and their ancestry steeped in agriculture, the Planeta family started their innovative project and founded the family company in 1995 from their home estate near Menfi. It’s very much a family affair, started by the vision of Diego Planeta and is run byAlessio, Francesca and Santi, with other family members also involved in the business. At the time of starting the estate project, Sicily was producing over 10 million hectolitres of wine, much of it sent abroad as bulk wine, millions of litres distilled, and only two per cent produced in bottle. Sicily’s reputation was as a bulk provider of cheap, low-quality wine, with few redeeming qualities. Planeta’s vision was to put Sicily on the quality map, and they began theproject with Chardonnay, believing that it would be easier to convince the overseas wine-drinking public of the potential for Sicilian wine by using a recognised grape variety. The first vintage of Planeta Chardonnay received international acclaim in 1996, and they have not looked back since. The family ethic of passion, effort and innovation was apparent when I spoketo Francesco Planeta at a recent tasting at Great Western Wine in Bath. It’s a fascinating story; over the years, they have gradually broadened the range of grape varieties that they use, and have bought estates in different areas of Sicily, always pushing the boundaries, always seeking the next challenge, always developing and evolving. Today, with six estates and wineries under their ownership, Planeta produces iconic wines from two of the great Sicilian grape varieties – Fiano and Nero d’Avola – their latest project is a winery and vineyards on the northern slopes of the Mount Etna volcano! CARRICANTE 2010 This is the second vintage of Planeta’s first venture on Mount Etna, from their Castiglione di Sicilia estate, and shows the fruits of their efforts in pushing the boundaries to try new soil types with indigenous grape varieties. From the little known Carricante grape variety, this was a top favourite from the tutored tasting, with its exuberant style and freshness. The aromas are enchanting – floral, fragrant with zesty green apple and scented quince, which were also bursting through on the palate. I loved the vibrancy of this wine, its tangy freshness, yet delicate, smooth, slightly spiced flavours, and an edge of steely minerality. Perfect on its own or with seafood and grilled fish. COMETA FIANO 2010From the original estate of the Planeta family in Ulmo, SW Sicily, this ripe, intense dry white showcases the great quality that the Fiano grape can produce. With its eye-catching blue label, and intense style, it’s unusual and delightful! It’s a very textured wine, with an aromatic, fruity, yet elegant complexity – bursting with scents and flavours of apricots, nectarines and fennel, it is a unique combination of full-on flavour and subtle complexity, with a huge amount of charm. This would be great on its own, but would work well with meats with fruity sauces, sweet grilled prawns, and great with seafood pasta with the traditional Sicilian edge of chilli pepper. PLUMBAGO 2009Nero d’Avola, probably the best-known Sicilian red grape variety, is responsible for this beautifully silky, surprisingly delicate red from the south west estate of Sambuca di Sicilia. It’s named after a local flower, and floral characteristics are prevalent on the nose, which is brimming with violets, thyme and black cherries. A surprisingly gentle, and delicate style of red, with a delicious intensity of ripe red fruits, and a dusting of cocoa. Soft, gentle tannins add to the elegance and charm of this delightful wine, with its fresh and vibrant style. As well as red meats and pasta, this wine would work perfectly with all types of game. BURDESE 2006Another red from the family’s original estate in SW Sicily, but this time showcasing two classic grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (‘Burdese’ is local dialect for ‘Bordelese’ referring to Bordeaux style). This is a big, bold red, packed with intensity, substance and flavour from some of their top vineyards. Powerful and concentrated aromas of blackcurrants, herbs and mint on the nose, it leads to a rich, vibrant mouthful of deliciously vibrant currant fruit, enhanced by integrated tannins and a soft edge of mocha and spice. Voluptuous and smooth, it’s ideal with steak, meaty casseroles, roast lamb and cheeses.
Angela Mount is a wine expert and presenter, highly experienced in the wine industry and widely credited with revolutionising wine on the high street, making quality wine accessible to millions of consumers. Probably best known for having her taste buds insured for £10m by her former employers, Somerfield, Angela now works with producers to select just the right blends for the UK market, presents regularly on radio and at wine and food industry events, and writes regular wine columns and a blog. She has worked with some of the UK’s top chefs at various consumer events, exploring the world of wine and food pairing.
Flavour, for people who love local food
London, Issue 6 – december 2011