Planeta is one of the most forward-thinking and innovative Sicilian wineries but the Planeta family has owned the Sambuca di Sicilia wine estate since the 1600s, so wine-making has always been in the blood. However it wasn’t until the mid 1980s that Alessio, Francesca and Santi Planeta created Planeta wines as we know it today. Their plan was to make an assessment of the extremely diverse Sicilian soil types and to plant both local and international grape varieties in the most appropriate vineyard sites to create the best combinations of grape varieties and terroir. This approach has really paid off – not only do they make fantastic Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah, for example, but they also make great wines from local grape varieties like Nero d’Avola, Frappato, Fiano and Grecanico. They have a large cache of Tre Bicchieri wine awards from the Gambrero Rosso to prove it.
Planeta itself consists of five different wine estates – Sambuca di Sicilia, Noto, Vittoria, Menfi and Etna.
Sambuca di Sicilia – the original family home and is located in the north west of the island. There are over 94 hectares of vineyards surrounding the first Planeta winery and it is here that the best white wines are produced including Alastro (Grecanico), Chardonnay and Cometa (Fiano) as well as some Nero d’Avola for the newly releases Planeta Plumbago.
Noto – Planeta acquired 51 hectares in Noto, in the south eastern province of Syracuse, in 1998. Wines made in Noto include the Santa Cecilia DOC Nero d’Avola and their fantastic dessert wine, the Passito di Noto DOC.
Vittoria – The vineyards here at Dorilli, surrounding an old 100 year old farmhouse, are planted exclusively with Nero d’Avola and Frappato. The combination of these grape varieties and the red soil of fine light sand, close to the see helps produce the great Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG.
Menfi – Planeta have two wineries in Menfi in the north east of the island, the Cantina Piccola and the Cantina Grande (little and large!) as well as the 321 acre Dispensa vineyard plus another 119 acres. The Cantina Piccola is dedicated to making wines from international grape varieties whilst the Cantina Grande is dedicated the Planeta La Segreta range of wines.
Etna – Planeta grow the white grape variety Carricante and the red grape Nerello Mascalese in the Sciara Nuova disrict on the north east of Sicily, on the northern slopes of Etna. Located at 870m above sea level the soils here are extremely rich with minerals and black volcanic sand.
One of the wines I keep coming back to is Planeta Chardonnay from Sicily which has got to be a contender for the best Sicilian Chardonay. It is always so consistent and always seems to punch above its weight.
This 100% Chardonnay is from grapes grown in the Menfi region, and presumably made at the Cantina Piccola. Grapes for this wine are de-stemmed and crushed and the juice is clarified by cold settling overnight. The wine is fermented and aged in 225 litres French oak barriques half of which is new and half of which is one year old. The wine is aged in these barrels for 10 months prior to bottling.