Found mostly at high elevation on Mount Etna, Carricante ("Kair-eh-kan-tay") is Sicily's answer to dry Riesling.
Carricante Tasting Notes
On the nose, Carricante delivers aromas of citrus, crunchy green apple, orange blossom, and just-ripe peach. The aromatic undertones give it a strong mineral note like crushed rocks and salty air.
Wines taste dry, saline, and flinty on the palate with high acidity and a long tingly finish. With age, wines soften and deliver richer yellow apple and peach flavors with petrol or diesel-like aromas.
Diesel, really? Yes! The petrol-kerosene note comes from a naturally occurring aromatic compound that increases as wines age. The compound is called TDN (1,1,6,-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronapthalene), all wines have it but it’s more noticeable in aromatic whites like Riesling, Carricante, Furmint (Hungary), and Rkatsiteli (Eastern Europe).
Food Pairing with Carricante
With such high acidity and subtle saline notes, this is a great choice to match alongside spicy, aromatic foods. Southeastern Asian dishes play well, such as Thai dishes and curries.
That being said, the wine is made in Sicily, so you'd be remiss not to try it with herbed and breaded stuffed sardines, arancine di riso ripiene di formaggio (cheese-stuffed rice balls), and eggplant cutlets.
Where Does Carricante Come From?
Carricante was supposedly a major grape for a time all over the island of Sicily but is now nearly entirely found on Mount Etna. In fact, the grape takes up plantings on the highest slopes on Etna's volcanic soils which gives it incredible mineral flavors.
You'll often find Carricante blended with a touch of Catarratto (the island's most planted white) and the rare Minnella, which help add body and curb the intense acidity.