On Friday, September 6, 2013, we had the opportunity to visit Planeta’s Ulmo Estate, near Sambuca di Sicilia.
Planeta is a Sicilian winery established in 1995. It is not just one but six ways of expressing the land in 6 different aspects. With a total of 364 hectares of vineyards, today Planeta produces wine from 6 different locations in Sicily: Ulmo at Sambuca di Sicilia (Ag), Dispensa at Menfi (Ag), Dorilli at Vittoria (Rg), Buonivini at Noto (Sr), Sciara Nuova on Etna at Castiglione di Sicilia (Ct) and Baronia at Capo Milazzo (ME). This project is called “Ogni Territorio La Sua Cantina” (For Each Terroir, Its Own Winery).
We were received by Alessio Planeta, the passionate and dedicated winemaker and production director for Planeta.
Planeta was arguably the most “International Sicilian winery” during the late 90’s and early 2000’s . They made world class Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot, proving (not only to the Italians), but also to the critics and consumers in the USA and elsewhere in Europe that Sicily could produce premium wines of high quality. However, even if made from these international grapes, they were wines that had a stamp of the Sicilian terroir.
Today Palaneta is returning to the old enological Sicilian traditions. They grow about 20 different grape varieties today and they believe they can grow 50 in the future. They are making wines wines of indigenous grape varieties such as Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Grecanico, Carricante, Moscato di Noto, and Frappato.
“The Planeta winery quickly became the best expression of the innovation and internationalization that characterized the Sicilian premium wine industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Its rapid success, though deliberately and quietly planned for a decade, encouraged other Sicilian producers to believe that they could sell mid-to-high-priced international-style wines to the world market.” Bill Nesto MW in his book “The World of Sicilian Wine”.
We had the opportunity to get to know wines (5 whites and 5 reds) that were made from international and indigenous grape varieties. It was quite interesting to see that #winelover-s can immensely enjoy both!
We tasted the following wines:
- Alstro 2012 – White – DOC Sicilia Gracanico (95% Gracanico and 5% Fiano): Ulmo winery – Ripe fruit on the nose. Very fresh and light (12.5% alcohol). Floral notes dominated the palate.
- Cometa 2012 – White – DOC Sicilia Fiano (100% Fiano) – Dispensa winery: Very aromatic. Lots of ripe fruit on the palate. A wine that begs you to take another sip.
- Chardonnay 2011 – White – IGT Sicilia (100% Chardonnay) – Ulmo winery: The nose is intense. Typical apple character of the Chardonnay with notes of nuts and spices. Creamy.
- Alastro 1996 – White – (my favorite – see notes below)
- Chardonnay 1998 – White – (100% Chardonnay) – Ulmo and Dispensa wineries: Very complex on the nose. Fruits, nuts, and spices. Full-bodied (14.5% alcohol) and creamy with a very long finish.
- Plumbago 2011 – Red – IGT Sicilia (100% Nero d’Avola) – Ulmo winery: Lots of red and black fruits on the nose. Ripe blackberry fruit on the palate. Juicy. Medium-full body (13.5% alcohol).
- Maroccoli Syrah 2009 – Red – IGT Sicilia (100% Syrah) – Ulmo winery: Spices and nut notes on the nose. Red and black fruit combined with a very intense note of spices. Ripe tannins give the wine a nice structure.
- Sito dell’Uomo Merlot 2009 – Red – IGT Sicilia (100% Merlot) – Ulmo winery: Typical ripe (and delicious) Merlot plum on the nose. Plenty of ripe fruit, sweet spices, and a slight hint of minerality on the palate. Long finish.
- Burdese 2008 – Red – IGT Sicilia (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc) – Dispensa winery: Intense nose with lots of complexity. Full-bodied (14.5% alcohol). Firm structure and a very long finish.
- Merlot 2005 – Red – (95% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot): Ripe fruit on the nose with notes of prunes and plums. Full-bodied (14.5% alcohol). Soft and round. Sweet spices dominate the palate.
But if you pressed me to answer the very usual question: “which one was your favorite wine of the tasting?”… then I have to admit that I REALLY fell in love with the Alastro 1996. A wine made from 50% Grecanico and 50% Chardonnay grapes from their “La Segreta” Vineyards. This (relatively) old wine was still amazingly fresh… and complex… and delicious… And it was proof that international and indigenous grape varieties, not only can co-exist in the Sicilian vineyards, but they can also work perfectly well in the same bottle!
We could clearly see that, today, the Planeta winery is an intersection of the “international” and the “local”. An expression of innovation and tradition that could be savored in our glasses of wine!
To schedule a visit:
Aziende Agricole Planeta s.s. – Contrada Dispensa 92013 Menfi (AG) – Italy +39 0925 80009 / F +39 0925 80072
Luiz Alberto, #winelover