Cantina Urbana’s VULK’KANIKO Bringing Etna to Milan

05 Dicembre 2019 -
DI Redazione

On a clear day along the eastern coast of Sicily the horizon of the bright blue sky of the Mediterranean is broken by a large black cone, gray smoke smoldering from it.  It’s the peak of  Mount Etna, the highest volcano in Europe and one of the most active volcanoes in the world.  Located near the seaside city of Catania and the beloved tourist attraction of Taormina, Mount Etna’s imposing summit, with its spectacular fiery eruptions which light up the nighttime sky and send ash through the air like dirty snow, has left at its peak a barren and lunar-like landscape marked by the silence of the wind and at its foothills dark fertile soil.  Here, we are in the deep south of Italy, a two-hour flight from the bustling labyrinth of metropolitan Milan.  Capital of the northern region of Lombardy, teaming with 1.3 million inhabitants, swarms of tourists, traffic and lights, it’s the hub of Italian business and home to its fashion industry.  Milan is urban and pulsing with life both day and night. Etna and Milan are contrasts – nature, city, lava, lights. Yet, one winery has managed to merge these two distinct realities into a single limited-edition wine.  Grown on the slopes of Mount Etna and refined in the city of Milan, Cantina Urbana’s VULK’KANIKO is an elegant red made with 100% Sicilian Nerello Mascalese grapes and released for the holiday season in only 1,000 bottles.

Etna wines have been bursting onto the international wine scene as their unique character earns fans near and far.  These grapes grow in a unique setting on some of the highest vineyards in the world.  Etna wines have personality, structure and a long history too.  In fact, it was the Greeks who first began cultivating grape vines at the foothills of the volcano back in the 6thcentury BC when they realized that the location and sandy soil actually helped to protect the vines from diseases.  Planted on steeply sloped terraces along the mountain’s face Etna grapes reflect the lava spills and ash which give the soil a unique set of minerals.  They’re also exposed to a unique climate of bright hot sun with warm breezes during the day and cool temperatures at night.  The result is wines which are robust and versatile ranging from smoky and leathery to perfumed and fruit-forward.

Still, what makes this limited edition VULK’KANIKO even more alluring is the fact that it’s a meeting of  opposites – south meets north, volcano meets city. Produced by the winery Cantina Urbana, it’s a wine grown on the slopes of Mount Etna and finished in the metropolitan center of Milan.  Aptly, the winery’s name translates into urban winery.  The first authentic wine producer located in the heart of the Lombard capital, Cantina Urbana can be visited in its location in Naviglio Pavese in Via Ascanio Sforza 87.  The collective distinguishes itself for working with a network of trusted vine growers throughout Italy, bringing the raw material to Milan and producing the wine there. With this Etna wine, Cantina Urbana has brought the scents and tastes of Sicilian wines to Milan, creating a product which is the perfect synthesis of the work of their spin-off Maninude – part of the winery dedicated to constantly seeking out the best vineyards, grapes and raw materials grown throughout the country and bringing them to Milan to create  a topnotch enological panorama of Italian wines.

Presented in a limited edition of just 1,000 bottles, VULK’KANIKO is the result of a partnership with vigneron Filippo Mangione whose vineyards grace the small town of Passopisciaro, an old feudal estate nestled on the high sun-soaked northern slopes of Etna – an area renowned for its wine production and mineral-rich soil.  Using a grape typical to the region, the thick-skinned and deeply colored Nerello Mascalese, the grapes were harvested and pressed into wine directly at the vineyard in order to maintain their genius loci and only afterward brought to Milan to be refined and bottled.

“It’s the fruit of a small, precious grape,” recounts Michele Rimpici, founder of Cantina Urbana ®, “It’s an area which is practically inaccessible, with centuries old vines cultivated by expert hands, secrets handed down from generation to generation of a unique terroir from the slopes of Europe’s largest and most active volcano.  This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese.  After the late harvest towards the end of October, the grapes were handled according to the philosophy used for all of the wines of Cantina Urbana – maximum attention to quality, zero chemical intervention, a careful and soft natural transformation of the grapes into wine.  The wine was then fermented in small, wide, open tubs, with a low volume, reminiscent of the fermentation and drawing off done in millstone thousands of years ago.  The grapes were [then] left to rest in steel barrels in order to enable the malolactic fermentation necessary to soften the high though precious acidic mass which the minerals in the soil and the altitude give to the must.  The long refinement, six months in French oak barrels, naturally smooths out the bold tannins and prepares the wine to rest in the bottle… and for the tasting of this quality product, from Sicily to Milan!”

Like all of the wines from this city cantina, it’s a reflection of a passion for true craftsmanship and union. VULK’KANIKO is a synthesis of the best of Italy – the beauty of regions and landscapes merging.

by Liana Bicchieri