Better known for the quality of his family’s oranges & olive oil, an activity founded by his father ‘Don Peppino’, Roberto Tindaro Abbate of Motta Camastra near Taormina, turned to tending the vine in 2012, thanks to inheriting a 1 hectare parcel in the Castiglione di Sicilia contrada of Feudo di Mezzo located in the prized versante nord village of Passopisciaro, at 650m asl. What’s more, the parcel is mainly made up of 80 year-old Nerello Mascalese & Cappuccio, making only c.1500 bts of Etna Rosso, but he also makes a few bts of Etna Bianco from Minella Bianco, & Grecanico vines dotted round the vineyard, while the Carricante comes from Fleri near Zafferana on the versante Est. In piu, he also makes a few bts. of Etna Rosato!
Yet Roberto’s passion for the vine is in part thanks to his much older fratello Enzo, who got to know the Barolista Giuseppe Rinaldi when working in Cuneo back in 1975 (when Roberto had but two years old!). This passion was saited when Roberto began making some wine in 2005 for family & friends.
Indeed he maintains: “il miglior abbinamento ad un vino è la persone con cui lo condividi.” (“the perfect match for wine is the person with whom you share it.” Roberto Abbate)
Vinification currently takes place just down the road in Passopisciaro, at the cantina of his friend Giuseppe (Girolamo) Russo, who suggested that Roberto take his hobby more seriously.
Wines are expressive, artigianale & not overstated, wild yeast fermented, hand-punched down (il Rosso) in small mastelli/tubs, ambient temperature ferments (even for il bianco) & would appeal to Burgundy lovers. Roberto seems to be a perfectionist, both in terms of presentation – taking time to decide on the label which incorporates Dante’s Inferno & Etna’s vine roots – & in the way he appraoches both vineyard management & wine making.
He concludes: “Il vino è condivisione e dentro ad ogni calice troveremo sempre una storia da raccontare, e questa è la mia.” (Wine is about sharing, & in each glass we will find a story to tell, & this is mine.” (Roberto Abbate)
Etna Bianco 2022 – made with grapes from friend in Zafferana Etnea, (80% Carricante, 20% Minnella Bianca from Fieri), Rosato from younger vines planted amongst the older NMs in Versante nord towards Passopiciaro, where there are also old vines of whites which go into the mix. White, pure, lemony, waxy, almost loire chenin style with racy acidity. Lovely mouth feel.
Etna Rosato 2022 – 100% NM and C. Super pale and elegant oeil de perdrix with tint of orange, again purity and precision. Floral and delicate. (over dinner Roberto said that he also puts the old vine minnella from the cru vineyards around Passopiciano into this).
Etna Rosso – from the Contrada Feudo di Mezzo, close to Graci. Old Albarello vines. only do follatura (is this punching down? Follatura seems like a much more gentle word than the English and French), no cappello sommerso. 2019 – traditionally fermented, but grappoli interi for 2021 – he likes that style like Burgundy. 3 vintages:-
2020 tricky year with lots of rain around harvest but prettily perfumed, lighter intensity and colour, with good definition and typicity. Raspberry, red fruits, fine grained, fruity but a bit more cool.
2019 more colour, structure, weight, but still hallmark elegance and purity of fruit. All finely made. Pure darker fruit. Very light touch of oak (not new), beautifully constructed. Follatura. 14 year old barrique?
2021 similar to 2019 but we didn’t drink at dinner. Notes from contrade – bottled 1st March. Very fine raspberry fruit, super gentle, pure pleasure fine tannins on the end. Again structured. Roberto described the 2021 vintage as hot and dry, but this isn’t apparent in the wine which is elegant as expected.