Carricante, Italian wine grape variety considered among the best for white wine in its native Italy (Ian d’Agata, 2019, p312) along with Verdicchio, Garganega, Fiano, and Trebbiano Abruzzese.

Where grown | Carricante used to be cultivated throughout Sicily. Now it is now essentially confined to Mount Etna where it accounts for 95 % of whites grown.

The name | Carricante comes from the Italian verb ‘caricare’ meaning ‘to load up’ (either the cart or the donkey) alluding to its high productivity.

Family relationships | Carricante is possibly related to Nerello Mascalese.

Where grown in Italy | Sicily: Etna DOC Bianco.

Site selection | Carricante is best on the volcanic slopes of Etna, often planted at extremely high altitudes (over 1000m), and where Nerello Mascalese cannot ripen.

Replanting | Rather than selecting specific clones, producers try to plant massal selections of old vines.

Winemaking | Carricante is picked as late as possible to curb its high acid. Carricante gives wines that are low in alcohol and especially high in malic acid. Thus, malolactic fermentation is considered necessary.

Refined, pure and racy, Carricante offers flavours of lemon, aniseed, green apple, orange flower, chamomile and unripe apricot. Old vines impart added depth and complexity as well as a palpable salinity and minerality. Often described as a dry Riesling lookalike, it develops flint and diesel aromas with 5 to 10 years of age and is one of the few Italian whites that ages well.

Wine styles | Carricante is mostly made as a dry, still white. It may be blended with small portions of other local white grapes like Catarratto Bianco Comune and Minnella Bianca.

Bibliography

Dr Ian d’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.90.