Wines to Seek Out
I Custodi delle Vigne dell'Etna "Ante" Etna Bianco
This pure Etna Bianco is a blend of multiple plots from ideal Carricante exposures across the eastern flank of the volcano. It boasts a consistently fresh profile, with generous citrus fruits and an expansive perspective sip after sip. It is one of the best introductions to the beauty and complexity of Etna Bianco.
I Custodi delle Vigne dell'Etna "Imbris" Etna Bianco Superiore
I've only tasted the second vintage of this wine (2019), as it is a fairly new bottling and it has not been widely circulated yet. In fact, it is not even listed on I Custodi's website. However, this is a world-beater white wine: one of Italy's greatest. The "Superiore" designation means it comes from Carricante's top terroir, the village of Milo, which faces the Straits of Messina and the Ionian Sea. True to this origin, Imbris "lifts off" with a technicolor display of aromas that is so multifaceted, you might have to sit down. Once you realize what's crossed your senses, you will notice the generous richness of Imbris, which is harmoniously countered by precise acidity — a differentiator among its peers.
I Custodi delle Vigne dell'Etna "Pistus" Etna Rosso
Like the "Ante" on the bianco-side of things, the entry-level rosso from I Custodi is one of the best introductions to the wonders of Nerello Mascalese and its occasional accomplice, Nerello Cappuccio. Here, the blend is 80/20, which is fairly substantial. You'll notice bright and beautiful cherry tones with superb persistence, a playful juiciness that maintains a stern edge at times, cotton-like tannins and whispers of menthol or mint as well.
I Custodi delle Vigne dell'Etna "Aetneus" Etna Rosso
The showstopper. With fruit sourced from 100 to 150-year-old vines, Aetneus has patience and power. The nose is so complex and abundant with detail, that you might find yourself closing your eyes just to concentrate and hold on to it. But the most compelling trait is how the wine feels, especially with a handful of years in bottle to settle: there is a velvety texture to this wine that seems to get silkier with each sip, and a controlled, measured amaro trait on the finish that grounds the whole experience as unmistakably Etna.