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Sicily’s Etna region gears up for DOCG status

Winemakers in the historic Etna DOC denomination have begun down the path towards prestigious DOCG recognition in Italy, with changes to the production rules planned.

The Consorzio Tutela Vini Etna DOC announced its official move toward obtaining Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) status after a unanimous decision by Consorzio members on 10 November 2023. 

‘I would say this is a historic decision for the entire Etnean territory,’ said Francesco Cambria, president of the Consorzio. 

We are a healthy denomination, very careful to defend the specificity of our viticulture, characterised by a marvellous heritage of indigenous vines, bred within a unique territory such as that represented by Europe’s highest active volcano, Etna.’

Etna DOC, founded in 1968, is the oldest established DOC in Sicily, and also one of the oldest DOCs in Italy. Its terroir is recognised for its unique ecosystem, as well as for terroir-driven wines made from the indigenous Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Carricante grape varieties.

Over the last 20 years, vineyard hectares, the number of growers, and volumes produced have all been steadily increasing, reflecting the growing interest in wines from Etna.

According to the Consorzio, in 2022 there were 1,290.82 hectares under vine with 442 growers producing 43,651.09 hectolitres – equivalent to 5,820,145 bottles.

Etna DOCG: Changes afoot

The production area wraps around the volcano from north to southwest in a semicircle.

While the borders of the Etna appellation will not change, the future DOCG foresees some changes to the current production specifications.

In the spumante category, for example, the inclusion of the Carricante variety will be added to the already existing Nerello Mascalese. Producers will also be able to make a Pas Dosé style.

Other projected changes for the DOCG include: limiting the Etna Rosso yield from a specific contrade (equivalent to UGA); increasing the number of contrade from the current 133; and introducing the ability to indicate the name of one of 20 municipalities on the label if the grapes come entirely from that territory.

‘The changes that will be made to the new regulations will allow us to further increase the quality level of our wines and provide consumers with elements that make our production even more distinctive,’ said Cambria.

The process for DOCG recognition involves several steps of applications and reviews, which are expected to take approximately two years.

Assuming completion in reasonable time, it will become Sicily’s second DOCG, after Cerasuaolo di Vittoria. 


Related articles:

Sicily report 2023: Latest releases tasted from this extraordinary island

Etna announces nine new contrade with map update

A guide to Etna’s diverse wine styles

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