The Massimo Lentsch estate, founded at the end of 2018, is situated on the slopes of Mount Etna, in the district (contrada) of Calderara Sottana in the commune of Randazzo, while some of the vineyards are in the commune of Castiglione di Sicilia, in Contrada Feudo di Mezzo.
Already the owner of the Tenuta di Castellaro estate on the island of Lipari, Lentsch wanted to begin another adventure on volcanic soil, this time taking on the challenge of Etna, an active volcano.
«The decision to create vineyards and a winery on Etna has arrived at a particular moment in my life, in which much has altered at a personal level: a sort of milestone that marks an important change. Producing high-quality wines in a very fashionable but also extremely competitive region represents a major challenge for me, and one that I intend to win» explains Massimo Lentsch.
The contrasting interplay of lava and of water, represented by Etna and the Alcantara river, which flows close to the estate, creates a natural environment that is unique anywhere in the world.
Etna is the highest and most active volcano in Europe: it rises up majestically, like an island within the island. The Sicilians call it “Idda”, and refer to it as “the great mother”. The surreal landscape at the top, barren and inhospitable at the summit, is in complete contrast to that towards the valley, full of verdant woodland and vineyards.
“Mama Etna,” the snow-capped, smoking behemoth in the northeast, earned its nickname for the bounty it provides local communities. Fluorescent-green pistachios, ruby-red strawberries and wine comprise much of the farming income here. More than any other swath of Sicily, Mount Etna’s wines have earned lavish attention over the last few years.
The region’s climate is quite different from elsewhere. It’s practically alpine with intense sunlight, yet it receives twice the rainfall of other regions. The mountain’s unique wines earned DOC recognition in 1968. Producers now seek DOCG status, but they’ve yet to receive it.
Etna’s main grapes are Nerello Mascalese for red and Carricante for white. The former has been compared to both Barolo (Nebbiolo) and red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) for its transmission of terroir, depending where it’s grown on the mountain.
At warmer, lower altitudes, Nerello manifests as burly and tannic. As elevations climb up to 3,600 feet, where acidity increases and temperatures fall, wines turn taut and ethereal. Soil variation further alters flavor, concentration and texture. It’s a wine for those who appreciate singularity and vintage variation over consistency. From Wine Enthusiast
There are two historic vineyards: the Cosentino cru and the San Teodoro site. They are at Castiglione di Sicilia in the Province of Catania, in the District of Feudo di Mezzo: they face East and are at seven hundred and fifty meters above sea level. Here, Nerello Mascalese is grown, to produce Etna Rosso D.O.C. wines.
The Cosentino vineyard is made up of hundred-year-old alberelli (including several pre-Phylloxera plants), from which the Etna Rosso cru Cosentino is produced, while the San Teodoro vineyard is composed of vines of around sixty years of age, from which Massimo makes his Etna Rosso classico San Teodoro. The soil in this zone is sandy and volcanic, sub acid, fine-textured, fertile, and rich in microelements. From a general pre-selection carried out in both these vineyards, the Etna Rosato OMA is produced.
The first vintages on sale are the 2016 and 2017 for the Cosentino Etna Rosso (around 3,500 bottles of each), the 2017 for the San Teodoro Etna Rosso (9,000 bottles), and the 2019 OMA Etna Rosato (2,500 bottles).
There is also another vineyard that was planted more recently, which is situated at Calderara Sottana (in the commune of Randazzo): north-facing, at an altitude of six hundred meters above sea level, it is subdivided into two sections. In one part (around 4.5 hectares), where the soil is stony and alluvial, with volcanoclastic deposits and rich in black pumice, Carricante is grown, for a future production of Etna Bianco D.O.C.. In the other portion of the vineyard (around 0.7 hectares), Massimo cultivates Nerello Mascalese, from which he produces Etna Rosso D.O.C..
Also, two vineyards have been recently purchased in the Pianodario and Chiusa Politi districts (at Montelaguardia, in the commune of Randazzo)