Angelo Gaja says that old age begins when regrets outnumber dreams. For him, we can confidently say, old age is still very far away. In 2016, at age 76, he got us excited about his new business and his enthusiasm was contagious.
“My curiosity for Etna”, Angelo says, “had been brewing inside me for decades. From my very first trip in the nineties with my friend Giacomo Tachis, the charm of that steaming mountain, with its black earth and immaculate snow cap, captivated me, almost as if it had an elegant mink coat resting on its shoulders.”
Idda is a joint venture between Gaja and Graci on Etna, the highest active volcano of Europe.
In 2015, Angelo Gaja and Alberto Graci met for the first time. As he got to better know Alberto and his family over time, his deep curiosity for the culture and land kept growing, and the desire of working together came naturally. Toward the end of 2016, based on their mutual respect and love of the artisanal approach, they decided to form a joint venture, a first for both of our families. The pair have taken the unorthodox approach of focusing on the southern slope of of the volcano, often referred to as the back side of Etna. This largely forgotten region has a glorious past. Compared to the northern slope of the mountain which is well developed and has established a remarkable reputation, the southern side is relatively unexploited.
The southern slope allows them to explore a wide range of altitudes, exposures and soil types. With Carricante, a late ripening variety, they look for a profound and complex structure along with vibrant acidity. Therefore, the collaboration represents an exciting re-discovery of the southern slope and a new learning and creative venture for both families: for Gaja, who has never farmed on Etna, and for Graci who has never farmed its southern side.
Etna, like Langhe, is a wine zone known for its elegant, enigmatic and intriguing wines. For years now the high quality reds produced on the northern slopes of Etna have been praised, thanks to the pioneers who have proven the value of the varietal Nerello Mascalese. Gaja and Graci’s challenge is to explore different altitudes, orientations and soils on the southern side of Etna, an area still little explored, with Carricante, the white grape varietal which has received little notoriety in the past. Today they are betting on its great potential.
The project has only just begun and nature will determine the timing of its evolution.
The project has been christened with the name IDDA, meaning “she” in Sicilian dialect, and in honor of Etna: Idda is also the name which the Sicilians refer to their volcano, depicting their amazement and awe, not just because she’s a mountain and an active volcano, but because she projects her own identity and personality, irascible, capricious, yet maternal and protective.