Good news for a magical and absolutely special place, the Tuscan island of Elba.
Elba’s most emblematic and symbolic wine, Elba Aleatico Passito, has been slated to become the eighth Tuscan DOCG in a matter of days. It will be labeled as both Elba Aleatico Passito and Aleatico Passito dell’Elba. During a public hearing attended by twenty or so Elba producers the second week of November in Castagneto Carducci, the new DOCG appellation regulations were approved. Swift ratification by the DOC Committee in Rome was expected.
The new DOCG represents recognition for viticultural practices that have been employed since the Etruscan era. They flourished during the middle ages, when wine was transported through Pisa to all parts of Tuscany. Granduca Leopoldo di Lorena began to regulate the sale of wines through Portoferraio, the island’s largest town and harbor, and during the 19th and 20th centuries, viticulture was a great resource for the island’s economy, with nearly a fourth of the island’s entire surface area planted to vine.
Today, there are 250 hectares planted to vine on the island, with roughly 160 hectares authorized for production of DOC wines. With the tourist boom of the post-war era, Elba’s viticulture experienced a dramatic decline and the surface area planted to vine decreased sharply. This trend has been reversed in recent years and both the quantity and quality of wines produced there has grown.
Aleatico dell’Elba Passito, made from Aleatico grapes dried for at least 10 days, is the island’s viticultural gem, as my recent tasting of roughly 60 Elba wines, including a dozen bottlings made from Aleatico, revealed.