Prephylloxera vine and symbol of the Etna volcano

Signum Aetnae

ROSSO DOC RISERVA 2014

Nerello Mascalese grapes and other relic varieties

In the vineyards of Cavanera Etnea estate, you will admire a rare and precious treasure: a pre-phylloxera vineyard. Long-lived, centenarian plants, which are distinguished by the formation of the trunk, often evolved into concentric circles, coils and twisted arms. Creatures that time has forged bringing them to us, full of history. Etna Riserva Signum Aetnae comes from these centuries-old plants. Signum aetnae is the flagship of Firriato’s Etna production, making Nerello Mascalese grapes and other relic varieties in its vineyard at a straight foot. A pre-phylloxera parcel, whose plants were planted before the arrival of the aphid on the Etna. This precious Etna DOC Riserva comes from vineyards growing according to the traditional system of the alberello Etneo, at 650 meters on the north-eastern side of the volcano, a vineyard dating back to the second half of the ‘800, which testifies to the centuries-old culture of wine on the most active volcano in Europe . This treasure, depending on the year, gives life to about 3,500 bottles, destined to embellish the most prestigious wineries.

In the vineyards of Cavanera Etnea estate, you will admire a rare and precious treasure: a pre-phylloxera vineyard. Long-lived, centenarian plants, which are distinguished by the formation of the trunk, often evolved into concentric circles, coils and twisted arms. Creatures that time has forged bringing them to us, full of history. Etna Riserva Signum Aetnae comes from these centuries-old plants.


  • Appellation: Etna D.O.C RISERVA
  • Grapes: Nerello Mascalese grapes and other relic varieties
  • Terroir: mountain
  • Soil: Composition loamy –sandy of volcanic origin, highly draining
  • Exposure: North Eastern side of the Volcano (650 metri a.s.l.)
analisi sensoriale e vinificazione
analisi sensoriale e vinificazione

Production Area

Tenuta di Cavanera Etnea

The Cavanera Etnea vineyards are located on the north-northeast of the Etna Volcano. The winter temperatures are on average low, with a high difference in temperature between day and night. These unique soil and climate conditions favour the complex aromatic profile of the grapes.

Signum Aetnae

The pre-phylloxera vineyard, Etna heritage

Signum Aetnae tells the story of viticulture on Etna, the most important volcano on the European continent. Its grapes are harvested in about 2 hectares of ungrafted vines planted in the period prior to the appearance of the phylloxera, in the early twentieth century. Vineyards that have withstood and covered a time span even longer than the century and a half. Grapes of this extraordinary Etna Riserva, produced for the first time in 2014, are mainly of Nerello Mascalese, endemic cépage of the Etna area and other sporadic relic varieties, currently under study and research project by the while the National Council of Research, which has defined the genetic profiles in part until today unknown. The dendrochronological analysis of the wood of the vines was the prerogative of the University of Palermo, which thanks to the extraction from the most intact strains, was able to estimate the age of the vines, between 140 and 155 years.

Signum Aetnae

The vineyard: Protection and enhancement

To protect this heritage of varietal biodiversity as well as historical, cultural and anthropological, Firriato has long undertaken. the important project of preserving the germplasm of the century-old vineyard, and therefore of transmitting its DNA in the future. They are plants that have reached a productive vegetative balance unattainable in other contexts of the same Etna. There are very few specimens still alive and productive in the wine producing regions of the old world, and on Etna there is an important testimony, also thanks to the recovery and enhancement promoted by the Di Gaetano family. In the agronomic management of the pre-phylloxera vineyard, from the most ancient vines, using the traditional technique of propagation by offshoot, the occasional failures are resolved. With this practice, new plants are generated, which bring with them the viticultural and historical heritage of this vineyard. In itself, each plant shows the memory in its genetics, becoming each “ethno-anthropological memory” of what was once the Etna area, thanks to the ancient cultivation management traditions, which have gradually been modernized over time: from the multiplication by cuttings to the offshoot, and again the traditional “alberello” setting.

Signum Aetnae

Vinification and Maturation

A single vineyard that magnified the enology of Etna. This is the Signum Aetnae project, the absolute vertex of the Firriato sull’esna quality pyramid. The process of vinification and refinement of this precious Reserve was conceived in accordance with the Terroir concept with the aim of enhancing the specific peculiarities brought as a dowry by the pre-phylloxera vineyard. The collection of the grapes is selective and manual and rule, occurs in the last decade of October. The selected grapes are de-stemmed and pressed for vinification in steel which, with the malolactic fermentation. It lasts for about two weeks. Aging in French oak barrels is two years. It is in the selection of fine woods. seasoned in the open air for about 3 years, from the forests of Allier, Tronçais and Jupilles, which Firriato expresses the utmost attention and care. The passage in cask is decisive to define the distinctive sign, a concept that we find in the name of the wine itself. The refinement continues in the bottle for a period of about 18 months with the aim of raising the expression of the pre-phylloxeric Nerello Mascalese, destined by its very nature to long aging.

Signum Aetnae

Sensory profile

Unique style, with an emblematic aromatic complexity, the perfect maturity of this wine reflects the authenticity of Nerello Mascalese, the undisputed red grape variety of the Etna area.
Brilliant ruby color, the nose reveals a remarkable personality: firm and sophisticated, vertical, it expresses a corollary of undergrowth fragrances, red fruits and a seductive spicy wrapped in fine balsamic notes. In the mouth it is soft and powerful, supported by a good persistence that turns on tertiary notes, giving sensations of small red fruit combined with a very pleasant freshness. A wine of great structure that promises great longevity, capable of reflecting its chosen Terroir in a vertical and authentic way, bringing all the power of the Etna area into the glass

Signum Aetnae

2014 vintage

The climatic trend was decisive for the quality of the grapes produced, after the spring rains and early summer, temperatures gradually approached the seasonal averages, but without heat peaks. In September , rains arrived but despite the concern that made us think of a difficult year, the month of October was kind. With sunny days and no rain, the grapes were brought to the cellar perfectly intact and ripe as well as healthy. from the sanitary point of view excellent with ratios The leaf surface has been in perfect balance with the / production of the fruit on the plant in a state of absolute balance (about 1 square meter of leaf surface per kg of grapes). Date of collection: October 17th. The quality of the red grapes was optimal, for a slow and balanced ripening of the grapes which – today – we find in the glass with a red of excellent finesse, harmonious and at the same time deep and complex, as befits a great aging wine.

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Firriato Winery, Authentic Terroir