BENANTI, ETNA ROSSO & BIANCO
When we talk about Italian wines, it’s not enough to talk about regions – we have to talk about microregions. If you want to know where some of the most exciting wines are coming from, some of the best, most rewarding values, then you have to learn your regions within the regions. And in Sicily, which is on a major roll of late with its wines, that means drawing your lens down on Mount Etna, sometimes referred to as an “island within the island.” And on this island within the island, all roads lead to Benanti. Especially if you value wines of deep craftsmanship, and that express their terroir with clarity and soul. And not least, that don’t empty out the wallet.
For all those reasons and more, Benanti has long been one of our favorites from Italy, and we couldn’t be prouder this morning to bring you this quartet from their sterling portfolio, including their 97-point Contrada Cavaliere Bianco from 2019 – a powerhouse of a wine with great aging potential that we are able to offer our Concierge Family for a best price of less than $50 a bottle!
To understand what makes Benanti so good, and why we’re so high on these four, you have to understand: this is an estate that has always done things a little differently from the crowd. Its founder, Giuseppe Benanti, was a pharmacist before the wine bug hit hard. His ancestors had been tending vineyards since the late 1800s, and in 1988 he went down the same path, purchasing a parcel of land in the heart of Mount Etna. At a time when many Italian winemakers were pursuing international recognition for their Barolos and Barbarescos and Chiantis, marketing them to the tastes of a world audience, Benanti took a different tack. His unorthodox approach? To draw on indigenous varieties from Etna, such as Carricante, Nerello Mascalese, and Nerello Cappuccio.
Today, the operation is in the hands of his sons, Antonio and Salvino, but the focus on 100% native grapes remains, along with a dedication to retaining their varietal character. Benanti quite simply tastes like nothing else, while also delivering the fullness, richness, and pleasure of the best wines of southern Italy.
And in the soil and air of Mount Etna, the estate has an ideal collaborator. The island is blessed both with sandy, volcanic soils that are rich in minerals and high elevations, ranging from 1500 to nearly 3000 feet. A winemaker could hardly ask for a better set-up. Grapes are hand-harvested and de-stemmed, and fermentation is aided by Benanti’s own indigenous yeast, selected from local vineyards and after countless experimentation in the cellar.
If you’ve never popped the cork on a bottle from Benanti, then you’re in for something special – a vivid explosion of aroma and taste.
This description of the Contrada Cavaliere Bianco from James Suckling captures it: “Stand back as this extremely intense and vibrant Etna dry white arrives! … Super-sleek and focused palate with a dangerous amount of mineral energy and samurai sword acidity. The finish lasts for minutes!”
We are fortunate, as well, to have their Contrada Cavaliere Rosso, which brings much the same vibrant aromatics. Wine Enthusiast singled out its expressiveness, writing, “Dark spice, dark-skinned berry, eucalyptus and cedar aromas lift out of the glass, along with French oak and coconut.” On the palate, you’ll find a beautifully extracted wine, medium-bodied but with surprising delicacy and energy, its fine-grained structure leading you seamlessly to a fine finish.
Last but not least are their Rosso and Bianco, which delighted us from our first nosings of the glass. These are the table wines of your dreams – soulful, endlessly drinkable, and capable of playing in a multitude of contexts. And the fact that the Benantis can deliver such precisely-defined, terroir-driven wines for these kinds of prices is nothing short of remarkable.
Don’t delay, folks. Benanti is a name to be up on, and these are four that are sure to endear you to their passionate, hands-on brand of winemaking.
*Offer NOT valid in-store. This offer is made pre-arrival, with wines estimated to be delivered to your preferred store in Summer 2022. With the supply chain issues that we are seeing globally, there may be some unforeseen delays which could affect the ETA. All sale prices are the lowest available at Total Wine & More and ONLY valid through Concierge Sales. No further discounts or coupons may be applied. Offer not valid in MI, NY, or TN. This offer is for ONE WEEK, or until sold out, and will expire on Sunday, April 17, 2022.