With the aim of safeguarding, enhancing and promoting Sicilian excellence for Etna wines in the viticultural field, Planeta enters the world of distribution by taking over 100 percent of the production of the Feudi Spitaleri winery, located in the marvelous Castello Solicchiata estate in Adrano (CT), on Mount Etna.
The Project of Planeta and Feudi Spitaleri
As of October 2022, in fact, Castello Solicchiata wines are marketed exclusively by Planeta, which, in addition to taking full ownership of commercial distribution, is also in charge of catalog enhancement strategies and support in the production phase, providing its expertise in viticulture and oenology. The distribution is aimed at the global market, focusing initially on the main countries such as the U.S., UK and Germany, in addition to Italy primarily, with the goal of covering the entire production.
The estate, which is almost inaccessible to visitors out of respect for the extraordinary nature of the places and the privacy belonging to the Spitaleri di Muglia family, is part of 60 hectares planted with vines out of a total agricultural area of more than 300 hectares.
More than 100 kilometers of carved lava stone walls, heights ranging from 700 to 1,000 meters, 550,000 sapling vines. Solicchiata is probably the largest terraced alberello vineyard in the world, planted 70% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the remainder to minor Bordeaux varieties.
History’s Passion for Etna Wines
Part of the castle’s extraordinary heritage is Feudo Boschetto, growing entirely Pinot Noir with some plantings dating back to the original plan. The catalog consists of six labels-three Cabernet Franc-based and three pure Pinot Noirs- with only French varieties, just as the original founder back in the mid-19th century had chosen.
Castello Solicchiata is a unique project, conceived in the mid-19th century by the Spitaleri di Muglia, a family of noble and ancient lineage: in fact, the name derives from ‘Ospidalieri’, knights of St. John of Jerusalem and then of Malta, crusader barons who arrived on Etna to trade wine at the end of the 13th century, on their way back from their journey to Jerusalem.
Enlightened agriculturists, they boasted the distinction of having first brought vine cultivation to Etna, and of having perpetuated the agricultural activity by following the succession of different dominations and cultures (from the flourishing early medieval trade to the suspension of Moorish rule, until the revival of the 16th century).
In 1855, Baron Felice Spitaleri-the youngest senator of the Kingdom of Italy who was a proponent of the Italian wine-making- had a vision as daring as it was fascinating of building a French-style chateau on Etna, with hundreds of terraces carved out of lava rock and a state-of-the-art production model.
The experimentation of native varieties was entrusted to the most famous geo-botanist and ampelographer of the time: Father Francesco Tornabene, afferent to the famous Catanese school and founder of the Catania botanical garden; the architectural design was led by Andrea Scala, who was inspired by the stages of Italian-style theaters to design the more than 300 hectares of terraced vineyards.
Solicchiata thus became the chosen place to cultivate famous allochthonous varieties and produce great bottles, elegant and unique, able to dialogue with the international wine world, earning the stages of the major wine competitions of the time. Solicchiata wine, in fact, won first prize at the London Exposition in 1888, the Grand Diploma of Honor and Gold Medal in Palermo in 1889, Vienna 1890, Berlin 1892, Brussels 1893, Milan 1894 and was the first official supply of the Royal House of Italy, remaining the most awarded Italian wine at international and universal competitions in the 19th century.
“For us, collaborating with the Spitaleri family means picking up the oenological dream that their ancestors brought to life two centuries ago and bring that vision into the present. A present in which Sicily not only has a place of honor in the Italian and world wine scene but, with Castello Solicchiata wines, expresses the determination with which an exceptional family designed, built and finally developed their idea of wine by electing Etna as the ideal place,” comments Alessio Planeta, Planeta’s managing director.
“The Castello Solicchiata project is motivated by a deep love for our marvelous island and, as with Serra Ferdinandea – where, together with the French Oddo family, we conceived the vision of a ‘perfect’ farm where agriculture becomes an expression of a higher harmony that finds its highest realization in nature – Planeta becomes a careful selector of hidden or potential excellences; of people who, with their extraordinary character, feed the glorious image of Sicily as the historical and cultural cradle of Italy and the Western world in general. All this is called Ab Insula, a project that collects – and will collect – the most distinctive excellences of the island that we have selected, enhanced and promoted to be brought to everyone’s attention.”