Tenuta di Fessina A’Puddara Etna Bianco DOC 2018

Pale gold-straw color; aromatic herbs, Meyer lemon, lime, green apple, peach, orange zest, grapefruit, saline-minerality on the nose and palate.

Tenuta di Fessina A’Puddara Etna Bianco DOC 2018

Dry; no tannins, good acidity. Light-plus body. The wine is 100% carricante grapes fermented in large barrels, the traditional way with carricante grapes in Sicily, followed by 6-8 months on the lees. “Carricante” means “heavily laden” in the Sicilian dialect, a reference to the vine’s ability to over-produce unless pruned to encourage quality. A’Puddara is a true “fire mountain” wine, produced in Biancavilla on Etna’s southern flank. There is a slight wisp of petrol aroma, a naturally occurring aromatic compound also found in riesling. In fact, carricante is called the Sicilian riesling, although it also can be compared with sauvignon blanc. 13% ABV

The wine is estate bottled by Tenuta di Fessina, a winery founded by Silvia Maestrelli in 2007. The wine is named for the Pleiades star cluster of summer nights. The cluster is called A’Puddara “mother hen” in the local Sicilian dialect. The winery is located on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna, the active volcano that created and continuously alters Sicily. The soil is a mixture of sand and volcanic ash and rocks, ideal vine-growing mediums. The volcanic detritus delivers minerality and character to the grapes. Elevation also plays a role—the vineyards are almost 3,000 feet above sea level, engendering excellent diurnal shifts. The combination of the heat and sun—Sicily is close to Africa—and the cold nights makes for fleshy, ripe fruit with good acidity.

Tenuta di Fessina owner Silvia Meastrelli

Tenuta di Fessina is the trailblazing dream of Silvia Maestrelli. The website notes: “Pioneer and women—among the producers who have given new impetus to enology on Etna, Silvia Maestrelli—comes from a Florentine entrepreneurial family, she emigrated to Milan for love—arrived on Etna in 2006, on the trail of falling in love with this land rich in contrasts. A real coup de foudre [love at first sight] for a difficult land, strongly masculine, but of enormous charm and equally great enological potential.

“Thus began a new phase for her life and a research, both personal and professional, which will give life in 2007—after long and detailed negotiations with the ancient and numerous landowners—at the birth of Tenuta di Fessina [Estate of Fessina]. A project in which the sensitivity of a ‘feminine’ oenological vision, combined with the unquestioned technical skills of consultants and collaborators, has allowed us to create in just 10 years from the foundation one of the most successful and recognizable cellars in the Etna area, perfect ambassador in the world of new Sicilian viticulture.”

Tenuta di Fessina winery

Tenuta di Fessina A’Puddara Etna Bianco DOC 2018 is excellent example of carricante varietal—Sicily’s riesling—from a quality maker. Fresh, sharp acidity, delicate salinity-minerality. Meyer lemon and citrus present in a white wine with impressive complexity and depth. Pleasing finish with palate-cleansing acidity. Pair with fish and seafood; sardines are classic (pasta chî sàrdi—pasta with sardines); white meats—chicken, pork; grilled vegetables, eggplant cutlets; vegetarian fare; Thai dishes and curries; cheese-stuffed rice balls. Cheese—soft goat cheeses; sweet gorgonzola, smoked provolone. With its acidity and citrus notes, carricante is a very versatile food and cheese wine. $50-60

Tenuta di Fessina website

U.S. importer website

Tenuta di Fessina tasting area
Tenuta di Fessina winery
Tenuta di Fessina tasting area and vineyard
Tenuta di Fessina general manager Jacopo Maniaci
Tenuta di Fessina vines
Tenuta di Fessina barrel aging
Mount Etna scene