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Menopausal Mother Nature

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Placing a Bet on Nebbiolo in California

Mr. Harvey’s Italian venture is entirely different. It has its own name, Aeris, and aside from the grapes grown in Sonoma, it has two vineyards on Mount Etna, where it grows grapes and makes wines in association with Salvo Foti, who has played a crucial role in the revival of traditional Etna viticulture and wine production over the last 25 years.

Mr. Harvey has always been devoted to nebbiolo, the great grape primarily associated with Barolo and Barbaresco, but it was his discovery of carricante that sealed the Aeris deal. As he tells it, he was in Italy with his wife 17 years ago, when he stopped in a shop full of wines he had never tried before. One was a 2001 Pietra Marina from Benanti, an Etna Bianco Superiore made by Mr. Foti entirely of carricante.

“We drank it and it was revelatory,” Mr. Harvey said as we walked the young rows of Sonoma carricante. “It was like grand cru Burgundy meets grand cru Alsace riesling. That really captivated me.”

He tracked down Mr. Foti and they met.

“We talked about carricante,” Mr. Harvey recalled. “What blew my mind was how little there was, maybe 10 acres in 2010.

“There were so few examples, and I wondered, why not plant some carricante? Salvo had a great plan but couldn’t afford it. ‘Let’s talk,’ I said.”

By 2016, Mr. Foti and Mr. Harvey had a 15-acre carricante vineyard in Milo on the east face of Etna, prime carricante territory.

“I hadn’t intended to own a vineyard, but I didn’t do it to be rational,” Mr. Harvey said.

Mr. Foti, whom Mr. Harvey called “the high priest of indigenous grapes,” was also searching Etna for old vineyards of nerello mascalese at high elevation. When he found largely abandoned century-old vines at 2,000 to 3,000 feet on the north face of Etna near the town of Montelaguardia, Mr. Harvey stepped in. Aeris had another Etna vineyard.

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