Azienda Agricola BuscemiBronte | Sicily
In 1799, England’s Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson had just vanquished the French in the Mediterranean and was given by the Neapolitan king the title, Duke of Bronte—plus a plot of land on Mount Etna’s northwest face, covered in grape vines.
These few acres, more than 3,000 feet above the azure Mediterranean with midnight-black volcanic soils, today still retain the same mix of grapes they did centuries ago: Nerello Mascalese, Etna’s native red grape, and Grenache—a legacy, perhaps, of the Spanish House of Bourbon that ruled the region during the 18th century.
Indeed, Azienda Agricola Buscemi is the single winery in Sicily that honors the ancient ties of the Mediterranean winemaking diaspora. These two red grapes thrive amid Etna’s extreme climactic conditions—for wines of impeccable balance and freshness that are like few other wines from Sicily.
Winemaker Mirella Buscemi, originally from Syracuse, is a trained chemist; it was her grandparents who owned vineyards and who inspired in her a love of viticulture and wine. Fate showed its hand once she met and married winemaker Alberto Graci (of Azienda Agricola Graci in Passopisciaro), with a wedding gift of ‘Tartaraci,’ the plot of land once owned by naval legends, now back in native hands.
With bush-trained vines more than 100 years old, ‘Tartaraci’ is a unique vineyard, covered in snow during winter and Mediterranean-hot in summer. Yet great wine is always made at the extremes—and it is here, at altitude, where Mirella crafts world-class red and white wines redolent of wild herbs and silky fruit, in micro-quantities.
FARMING & WINEMAKING
‘Tartaraci’ is a contiguous, single-vineyard plot totaling just under four acres on the northwest side of Mount Etna, at 3,215 feet above sea level. An ancient vineyard under cultivation for hundreds of years, ‘Tartaraci’ is prized for its very old vines (on average, 90 years) trained as bush vines (albarello) and planted on the pure volcanic soils of Etna.
Facing north, ‘Tartaraci’ allows for a slow and long maturation of fruit, with large diurnal shifts given the plot’s altitude. Harvest often takes place in late October and stretches into early November.
Vines are cared for sustainably, and harvest is by hand. Both red and white grapes are destemmed. Red grapes are fermented and aged in cement tank; white grapes in large, older oak tonneaux. Production levels each vintage are very low, with less than 2,000 bottles of white wine and 4,000 bottles of red wine.
Sicilia Bianco 'Il Bianco'
A ripe and refined white wine that brings together the fruity Grecanico and the suave and fresh Carricante, planted at altitude on Etna’s pure volcanic soils. This is both mountain wine and island wine at once; sea-salty minerality plus high-altitude freshness blend for a Sicilian white that will astound.
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Sicilia Rosso 'Tartaraci'
So much history, so much surprise: the ‘Tartaraci’ vineyard is like no other plot on Etna, at nearly 3,000 feet in altitude with a northern exposure, yet still Mediterranean-influenced and wild in its beauty and vinous potential. Here Nerello Mascalese and Grenache are blended for a delicate yet potent red, full of silk and substance, endlessly refined and oh-so fresh.
- Download fact sheet (PDF)