After my full day of volcano trekking and wine tasting, I decided to take Sunday as a traditional day of rest and took to writing about my exploits of the previous day.

Things didn’t go quite as efficiently as planned.

As the sun shone across the breathtaking landscape, and the sound of absolutely nothing drifted all around me, I was finding it all too difficult to focus on my writing.

Pretty soon I had cracked open some wine and found myself just sitting back to enjoy the moment.

Unfortunately (for my writings sake) the ‘moment’ seemingly lasted until sunset, and my word-count was looking decidedly unhealthy.
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I have a confession to make. I am writing this sober, so I apologise in advance if this post is more coherent than usual.

My third day in Sicily was my first without any major travelling and my first real opportunity to get in amongst the vines of Etna.

With a 10am appointment scheduled at the vineyard of Passopisciaro, I had to set out early. The journey was a good 5 kilometres as the crow flies and unfortunately I’m not a crow.

Crows rarely have to negotiate rough terrain rising over 200 metres, searching for paths that seemingly only exist on the map, or find themselves crawling on their wings and knees through bramble and barbed wire to reach the closest resemblance of a road Etna has to offer.

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First can I please offer in the way of a guarantee after yesterday’s ramblings the following: There will be, at some point during this post, a wine review of sorts.

The day started a little blurry – probably due to the previous night’s gallon of mystery wine or perhaps because the bed was just a little too hard? No, I can sleep anywhere, it was the wine.

Up and packed I headed back onto the streets of Catania eager to start my journey to the north of Mount Etna – Wine country.

Arriving at Catania central station I thought I had everything under control.

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With an abundance of vacation days and a rapidly diminishing year, I decided to create a spur of the moment “Wine Adventure” for myself.

So, with a dash of planning and heap of gusto, I’ve jumped on a plane and headed to one of the most exciting new wine regions of the world – Mount Etna.

Whoa whoa whoa! I hear you cry. Etna has some of the oldest vines in Europe! So why do I call the region new?

Simply because no other classic wine region has declined so much during the 20th century only to be so vigorously revived in the 21st. I challenge any new world region to come close to the level of innovation and variety on show here in the shadow of Sicily’s great volcano.

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New World Chardonnay never used to be the most appealing of wine to me. Too often I found it over-oaked, blandly buttery and lacking any real individual character.

This is, of course, nonsense.

The truth of the matter is that Chardonnay is not a grape that takes to skimping on quality lightly. If you really want to experience what this wonderful grape is truly capable of, you must be willing to part with a little more cash than you might be used to for a New World wine.

Catena Alta Chardonnay – from Argentinian maestro Nicolás Catena – is a prime example of what can be accomplished with South American Chardonnay.

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