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Ayunta sums up pretty much everything that made us fall in love with Etna Rosso way back when, starting with the story of how Filippo Mangione founded the cantina. Filippo grew up in a Sicilian... Read More
Ayunta sums up pretty much everything that made us fall in love with Etna Rosso way back when, starting with the story of how Filippo Mangione founded the cantina. Filippo grew up in a Sicilian family that had sold off their vines in the ‘60s. But he fell in love with wine—Etna, in particular—and decided he needed to re-establish a domaine and revive his family’s legacy. He chanced upon the old owner of a nearly abandoned vineyard on one of Etna’s numberless volcanic craters. The man was too old to labor in the vines and thrilled that Filippo wanted to continue his work. He implored him, “Don’t let this vineyard die.” So Filippo used his life’s savings to buy the vineyard and found Ayunta. There’s more to Ayunta, of course, than just the romantic story of a man pursuing his dreams on a volcano’s wild slopes. There’s great wine! Because Filippo, even as he has grown his estate to a whopping 2.8 hectares (just kidding—that’s obviously tiny), has maintained the ancient traditions that make Etna’s wines unique and worth preserving. Most of the vines are very old, many even pushing 100 years. Vines that old are like people: each one is different. Which means they each need to be farmed in their own ways. You can’t work Filippo’s plots with a tractor. Filippo doesn’t use any chemicals in the vineyards either. And the cellar work is all very traditional: the reds get a slow (three weekish), spontaneous fermentation with ambient yeasts in open-top concrete vats; aging is mostly in large neutral barrels, including cherry wood. Even more than the Filippo’s story, his wines themselves embody everything that we love about Etna. They have delicious fruit that teases with sweetness before showing you its bitter, mineral side. They are electrically alive. They are in the tiny category of wines that can present something like Burgundy’s mystique, but very much in their own voice.