ANTICHI VINAI

GLOSSARY

A

Ageing is the more or less long period of maturation that the wine undergoes after the alcoholic fermentation. The wine stabilises and the flavours become richer, developing more elegance and balance.
For young, easy-drinking red wine, the minimum ageing time is around three months in stainless steel, fibreglass or cement containers. For more structured wines we prefer to extend this process for 2, 3 or even 5 years in wood, either in large barrels (10-70 hl) or small ones (2-4 hl) such as barriques and tonneaux.
Another type of ageing takes place in the bottle. Early-drinking wines don’t spend a long time in bottle, but more structured ones can improve with long bottle-ageing, as is the case for our Etna Reserve Red Koinè.

Anthocyanins are phenolic compounds present in the skins of red grapes and are responsible for the colour of the wine. They are extracted during maceration and are stabilised by combining with tannins throughout the winemaking process.

Adjectives applied to wine with excessive tannin giving an astringent sensation as a result of polyphenols that make proteins precipitate out. The mouth-puckering sensation is caused by the tannins combining with the proteins in saliva, producing a feeling that the teeth and tongue are “stuck together”.

Appassimento is a slow process that can be done on the vine (late harvest) or in the open air, as with our Malvasia delle Lipari Passito. It is achieved by hanging fully ripe, healthy grapes on cane trellises exposed to the sun. During this period the sugars and aromas become concentrated due to evaporation of the water in the grapes, so the amount of juice they produce is very low.

Bush training is a traditional method used for Etna’s native varieties. The trunk is trained with 2 or more branches, spur-pruned every year. This form of training is still used on the smallest and most difficult vineyard sites. In larger spaces, spurred cordon training is preferred.

The word Autochthonous comes from the Greek autos (self) and chthòn (soil/land) and indicates that something/one belongs to a place. So varieties that originate in a place are considered native when they are cultivated there.
We also consider varieties autochthonous when their region of origin and of cultivation are both found in the same province or a contiguous group of provinces.

B

A barrique is a small wooden barrel, holding around 225 litres and used for maturing wines, whites as well as reds and rosés.

Blanc de Noirs is a white wine made from black grapes, as we do with Nerello Mascalese to produce sparkling wine and Nerosubianco. Although it may seem incredible, it is possible and easy to explain: the pulp of black grapes is white, so all that’s required is to avoid contact (maceration) between the must and the skins, which are responsible for the colour.

Brut is the term used to indicate the final sugar level of a sparkling wine is 6-12 g/L. Higher residual sugar levels are called Extra Dry (12-17 g/L), Dry (17-32 g/L), Demi-sec (32-50 g/L), Sec (which is actually sweet, at over 50 g/L). If no sugar is added or the sugar level is below 3 g/L, the term Pas Dosé can be used. It is called Extra Brut if the dosage is 0-6 g/L.

A rooted cutting is a vine slip that has put out roots and is ready to be planted in the vineyard. Usually it has already been grafted onto an American vine stock to make it resistant to dangerous insects like the Phylloxera aphid, which devastated large areas of European vineyards when it arrived in Europe from America around the second half of the nineteenth century, almost destroying viticulture in the Old World.

A large barrel holds anything from 10 to 70 hl; it is usually made of oak or chestnut (which grows well in the Etna region). Large barrels are usually used to age serious red wines because they allow micro-oxygenation: tiny doses of oxygen enter through the pores of the wood, promoting the maturation of the wine, which consists mainly of colour stabilisation and tannin polymerisation (a chemical process that softens the tannins).
Large barrels respect the wine’s nature better than small ones, because the wood surface in contact with the wine is lower in relation to the volume of liquid, so the loss of aromatics is much slower or hardly happens. As a result, the wine’s organoleptic character remains almost unchanged. You can better feel the terroir!

C

Cryomaceration is a process that takes place immediately after pressing and destemming of the grapes and before fermentation: the must and skins remain in contact for 12-24 hours, chilled to 5-8° C.
Cryomaceration is usually used in the production of white and rosé wines and allows the extraction of more primary aromas from the grape skin. This produces wines with more intense, fruity, defined aromas. The low temperature also allows us to delay the alcoholic fermentation and the fairly short contact reduces the quantities of tannins and polyphenols extracted. The resulting must has little colour and is low in tannins and not bitter.

A cuvée is a blend of grapes from vineyards in different places, that produces high-quality wine in line with an oenological plan, so as to ensure that the quality and flavour are the same every year.

The Contrade of Etna are the wine-routes around which stories and traditions have developed. There are 133 Etna Contrade: 46 in Castiglione di Sicilia, 10 in Linguaglossa, 8 in Milo, 25 in Randazzo, 1 in Santa Maria di Licodia, 9 in Viagrande, 5 in Biancavilla, and 20 in Zafferana Etnea. Each of them shows the history and uniqueness of a terroir that changes with every step.

“Body” is the consistency of a wine, the combination of the substances in it: alcohol, glycerine, sugars, acids, tannins and other polyphenols, and mineral salts. Usually wines with good body come from fully ripe grapes and contain a balanced mixture of these substances.
A “thin” wine, on the other hand, is unbalanced, with one or more substances dominating the others.

D

The process of removing the berries from the stem, which precedes maceration or cryomaceration. It is done to avoid getting too much tannin into the must.

DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) certifies the delimited zone of origin of a wine, right from the time the grapes used for producing it are picked. Instituted by a legislative decree in 1963, it was absorbed into the European category PDO (Protected Origin Designation) in 2010. Before they can be sold, wines with the designation must undergo chemical and physical analysis and a taste test that certifies that they comply with the requirements of the regulations.
In the case of the Etna DOC, the entire production cycle (from picking to bottling) must take place within the Etna zone.

Thinning is the manual reduction of the number of grape bunches per plant and is designed to achieve wines with better balance and quality. Quantity doesn’t usually produce quality! To achieve optimum quality it is necessary to have the right balance between vegetation and production.

E

Adjective applied to wines where all the constituent elements (alcohol, acids, sugars, aromas, minerals…) are present in the right proportions.

Exposure is the orientation of the vines on the slopes in relation to the cardinal compass points and to the soil and climate.

F

An adjective describing a young wine with fresh, fruity, floral or herbaceous scents. Also used to indicate the typical “bready” aroma of sparkling wines, such as our Neromosso or Bollenere.

The alcoholic fermentation is the transformation of sugars into ethyl alcohol, carbon dioxide and energy (heat).

Malolactic fermentation is the transformation of the malic acid present in wine grapes into lactic acid and carbon dioxide through the action of lactic bacteria. Lactic acid tastes more delicate and less sharp, so this fermentation is often used for structured red wines in order to “soften” them. It is avoided in white wines because they benefit from stronger acidity.

Filtration is the removal of particles in suspension in the wine through the winemaking process. Usually there is a first coarse filtration and then, during bottling, a microfiltration with the aim of eliminating all types of microbes that could damage the wine over time. Filtering helps us minimise the sulphites we need to add to our wines.

G

Flowering broom (Genista) dominates the Etna countryside. Its yellow flowers also colour the lava landscape because it is one of the first plants to make itself at home, even on the sciare. Broom flowers have an intense perfume which is one of the typical aromas of Carricante, used in the Petralava Etna DOC white.

I

A wine is described as intense when it has pronounced, easily perceived flavours.

The IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) designation has been used for wines since 2010 and is included in the European PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) designation. This category covers wines produced in specific regions or geographical areas following production regulations that are generally much less restrictive and severe than those for DOC wines.
It is important to point out that sometimes labelling a wine as IGT is a commercial choice because the wine does not comply with the regulations for the DOC production zone, due to the varieties or the production methods used.
One example is our NEROSUBIANCO (IGT Terre Siciliane) which cannot be called DOC Etna white because the regulations do not permit a blend of Nerello Mascalese (vinified as a white wine) and Carricante, although both varieties were grown in the DOC production area.

L

The IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) designation has been used for wines since 2010 and is included in the European PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) designation. This category covers wines produced in specific regions or geographical areas following production regulations that are generally much less restrictive and severe than those for DOC wines.
It is important to point out that sometimes labelling a wine as IGT is a commercial choice because the wine does not comply with the regulations for the DOC production zone, due to the varieties or the production methods used.
One example is our NEROSUBIANCO (IGT Terre Siciliane) which cannot be called DOC Etna white because the regulations do not permit a blend of Nerello Mascalese (vinified as a white wine) and Carricante, although both varieties were grown in the DOC production area.

The liqueur de tirage is a mixture of wine, sugar, selected yeasts and yeast nutrients which sets off the second fermentation in bottle for sparkling wines. It is added when the base wine is bottled and re-ferments thanks to this vital mixture.

M

Minerality in wine is often confused with a smell reminiscent of brackish water or wet pumice stone. In fact minerals are neutral from an olfactory point of view, and a mineral wine is simply one that has a savoury flavour related to the presence of minerals dissolved in it.

A typical process in red wine production, it follows the destemming of the grapes. It consists of over 10 days’ contact between the grapes and the must at controlled temperatures, around 20° C. During this process the yeasts start the alcoholic fermentation.

The liquid (juice) derived from pressing the grapes, which will undergo alcoholic fermentation.

A microclimate is the climate of a local geographical area where the atmospheric parameters are noticeably different from those in neighbouring areas due to topographical, geomorphological and environmental differences. Etna, due to its structure, has lots of different microclimates!

Dry-stone walls are constructed using blocks of stone with no bonding or mortar. In 2018 UNESCO listed them as a World Heritage item, and the Etna region is full of these works of art – entirely built of lava rock, naturally.

Wine is defined as “semi-sparkling” when the bubbles in the bottle are at less than 2.5 bar. Our semi-sparkling wine is obtained by fermenting the last few grams of sugar inside sealed tanks that retain the carbon dioxide naturally produced by the yeasts.

The Classic Method or Méthode Champenoise is the process of making sparkling wine by causing a second fermentation in wine in bottles by adding sugars and selected yeasts (the liqueur de tirage). These are the steps: addition of the liqueur de tirage, bottling of the base wine with the liqueur, sealing with crown corks, prise de mousse (development of bubbles), maturation on the lees (the Etna DOC regulations specify a minimum of 18 months), remuage (riddling) in the pupitres (racks) to move the lees to the neck of the bottle, disgorging, topping up with liqueur d’expedition, corking with a mushroom cork and muzzle, labelling.

The main difference between the Charmat-Martinotti method and the Méthode Champenoise is the speed of the process, which uses a sealed tank for the prise de mousse, and the fact that all the phases that follow the second fermentation take place at a constant pressure.

The regulations allow sparkling wines to indicate when the base wine comes entirely from grapes harvested in a single year, which must be printed on the label where the word “Vintage” appears.
This allows a distinction between vintage sparkling wines and non-vintage ones, where the base wine for making sparkline wine is a blend of wines from different years, specifically created by the producer.

P

Ready to drink can mean one of two things:

  • a wine that has already reached full maturity and is ready to drink
  • a wine that does not require ageing before being drunk

Pruning is the process of removing parts of the vine, which is done in winter and is fundamental to the following year’s produce.
There are different pruning methods (spur, cane and cordon) but in general it involves removing the shoots that carried the bunches of the previous year’s harvest.
The purpose is to maintain the shape into which the vine is trained and to control the quantity and quality of the produce. Pruning the vines also allows us to control the number of buds, keeping only those that will germinate in spring, to produce 1 or 2 bunches per plant.
Pruning takes place in February and March although, in zones at risk of spring frosts, we often have to leave it until late March or early April to avoid the fruit being irreversibly damaged.
Summer pruning (also known as green pruning) means regulating the growth of the vine canopy in order to balance the relationship between leaf and grape production. The vine would produce grapes whether we pruned or not, but the operation is necessary in order to control the quantity produced.
Higher yields lead to a drop in quality.

The mousse is the bubbles produced by the presence of carbon dioxide in sparkling wines. A quality sparkling wine will have lots of small, persistent bubbles, that form small chains like a pearl necklace, which is why it is also called perlage.
However, sight is not the only way to judge the quality of the bubbles, because the palate is important too. High-quality bubbles feel “creamy” on the palate, like mousse, and do not have the aggressive character of, say, sparkling water bubbles.

A wine is “persistent” when its organoleptic sensations last a long time after it has been tasted and swallowed.

R

The stem is what is left of a bunch when the grapes are removed. Like the pips, its colour gives an indication of the ripeness of the bunch and the astringency of the tannins in it.

Reserve refers to wines that have undergone a period of ageing lasting at least two years for red wines and one year for whites. This time may be even longer if so required by the regulations for the type of wine in question. It only applies to PDO (Protected Origin Designation) wines (DOC and DOCG).

Wines are described as robust when they are full-bodied, with obvious alcohol and tannins, but balanced.

S

Structure is the combination of non-volatile substances, other than water, dissolved in the wine – alcohol, glycerine, sugars, acids, tannins and other polyphenols, and mineral salts – of which it is composed.
An example of a structured, full-bodied wine is our Koinè Etna Reserve Red, which has serious, but at the same time velvety, tannins. The flavour persists in the mouth for a long time after the first sip.

Bush training is a traditional method used for Etna’s native varieties. The trunk is trained with 2 or more branches, spur-pruned every year. This form of training is still used on the smallest and most difficult vineyard sites. In larger spaces, spurred cordon training is preferred.

Sulphur is a food preservative used at various stages of winemaking as an antioxidant and antimicrobial. It use can be minimised with impeccable hygiene and by using nitrogen (an inert gas) whenever wine is racked and at every stage of bottling, as we do in our cellars.

Adjective describing a wine with negligible residual sugar, in which all the sugars have been transformed into alcohol and carbon dioxide during fermentation.

Adjective referring to a wine with a light and pleasant salty flavour. It will usually be a well-structured wine, produced in a warm zone or one with very mineral soils. Etna wines have this characteristic.

T

Tannins are phenolic compounds in the grape and therefore in the wine. They are found in the skins, the pips and the stems. Their biological role is to defend the grapes against animals that might eat them and against microorganisms (bacteria, funguses) that could attack the grapes and damage them. Tannins are extracted during maceration and are responsible for the typical astringency of some wines. They also help define the flavour, colour and structural characteristics of the wine. They are more prevalent in red grapes and thus in red wines, where extraction mainly occurs during the maceration of the must on the skins, unlike in white winemaking.
Astringency in wine is related to the use of grapes that are not fully ripe. Using grapes that are fully ripe phenolically for wine-making gives the tannins a more “velvety” mouthfeel.
Ageing wine also reduces the basic astringency: the longer the ageing, the rounder the wine will feel, with better structure and balance.
Tannin molecules are also indispensable for colour stability because they combine with the anthocyanins to prevent their precipitation, which eventually leaves dark lees at the bottom of old bottles.
Antichi Vinai’s red wines guarantee the quality of the wine, as several clients who have old bottles of our Etna Reserve Red Koinè have noted: none of them showed any sign of anthocyanin precipitation when they were opened.

A large barrel holds anything from 10 to 70 hl; it is usually made of oak or chestnut (which grows well in the Etna region). Large barrels are usually used to age serious red wines because they allow micro-oxygenation: tiny doses of oxygen enter through the pores of the wood, promoting the maturation of the wine, which consists mainly of colour stabilisation and tannin polymerisation (a chemical process that softens the tannins).
Large barrels respect the wine’s nature better than small ones, because the wood surface in contact with the wine is lower in relation to the volume of liquid, so the loss of aromatics is much slower or hardly happens. As a result, the wine’s organoleptic character remains almost unchanged. You can better feel the terroir!

Terracing is the arrangement of very sloping terrain into a series of man-made steps, or terraces, each one supported by a dry-stone wall. The terraces were built to make steep slopes, like those rising up the sides of the volcano, accessible and workable.

V

A variety is a cultivated vine used to make a specific wine.
An example of a variety is Nerello Mascalese, from which we produce our sparkling wines (vinified as a white wine) as well as Petralava, Koinè and Asanguefreddo.
A varietal is a wine made from a single variety.

Brut is the term used to indicate the final sugar level of a sparkling wine is 6-12 g/L. Higher residual sugar levels are called Extra Dry (12-17 g/L), Dry (17-32 g/L), Demi-sec (32-50 g/L), Sec (which is actually sweet, at over 50 g/L). If no sugar is added or the sugar level is below 3 g/L, the term Pas Dosé can be used. It is called Extra Brut if the dosage is 0-6 g/L.

Bollenere

The pips are the seeds of the grapes, mainly consisting of tannins. During ripening they change colour from green to dark brown, depending on the level of ripeness and the astringency of the tannins. Tasting the seeds when sampling in the vineyard is extremely important for understanding the state of ripeness and for deciding when to pick. When the pip is dark brown, almost toasted, and pleasant to taste, it means it is fully ripe and that the tannins in it will no longer be astringent. During the maceration of the grapes the ripe pips will provide “good” tannins and the resulting wine will not be “astringent”.

Still wine means wine without any carbon dioxide, that is without any bubbles.

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