On The Fine Art Of Not Giving A Sh*t (Wiegner Etna Recent Releases)

Vinted on September 10, 2015 binned in crowd pleaser wines, on the road, overachiever wines, wine review
Peter Wiegner

The wily Peter Wiegner

Viewing the volcanic rock strewn about the foothills of the still-active Mt. Etna volcano, one would be forgiven for imagining that it must take a crazy person to want to farm anything there.

After meeting the wily and eccentric Peter Wiegner, the paterfamilias of Etna’s Wiegner Winery, and his huge Tibetan Mastiff patrolling the grounds for the leftover crumbs of gourmet fare, one is positively certain that it takes at least a mildly crazy person to want to farm there.

Along with son Marco and consultant Michele Bean, the Swiss-born-and-now-Etna-dwelling Wiegner has white hair and expressive eyes, all as wild as the combination of deadly-seriousness and comic lack of diplomacy behind them. He basically says whatever is on his mind, with very little operating filter, and dresses like he is farming on the side of a volcano (which he is). That Wiegner Winery crafts such vibrant wines might be a function of fine food and fine wine being about the only things that Peter Wiegner seems to hold truly sacred.

Wiegner mastiff

“You gonna finish that?”

“But it’s not my concern,” was a popular phrase with him when I met him, which he often uttered immediately after a semi-disparaging remark about himself, his wine, or his competitors’ wines. The impression Wiegner gives is of someone who loves to cook, deeply loves Etna wines, loves sharing his opinions, and doesn’t give a shit about the rest of it. I basically loved him instantly…

Wiegner Etna vineyards

Wiegner built is Etna winery in 2002, to bring some permanence to his adopted home (his first wife was Sicilian, and he spent “decades” in Tuscany) and to what he calls “my personal hobby” of winemaking. “There was not a brick here before [2002].”

You would be hard-pressed to find any two identical fermentation vessels at Wiegner Winery. The farming is organic, “for what it’s worth,” Wiegner noted. “It’s not a guarantee; you know that.” If you spend any time with Peter Wiegner, you will almost certainly spend some of that time talking in detail about Etna’s various volcanic soils and lava, the different types of which he views as equivalent to “the different Crus in France.”

Wiegner volcanic rock

Personally, I loved his take on Cabernet Franc, for which he was sort of begrudgingly thankful, as apparently that is a favorite among “all of the damned journalists.” Today, let’s take a look at two of his more traditional Sicilian sippers:



2012 Wiegner Winery “Elisena” Fiano Bianco (Terre Siciliane, $20)

That a personality such as Wiegner’s would be drawn to Campania’s boldest white grape, in hindsight, isn’t at all surprising. Having said that, this Fiano isn’t nearly as overt as many of its Campanian counterparts; in fact, at times it feels light on its feet despite its fleshy body. The wine is mineral, citric, and delicious, dominated by stone fruit aromas and a linear, refreshing mouthfeel. I’d love to taste this in five more years, when I suspect it will start to smell like honey and flowers, but I doubt a bottle of it would last that long (patience is a tough commodity to muster after sniffing an open bottle of this).

Wiegner soils


2012 Wiegner Winery “Treterre” Etna Rosso (Etna, $20)

100% Nerello Mascalese, which can often be earthy and herbaceous, though not unexpectedly Wiegner kind of turns that on its ear with their take. This NM is meaty, dusty, structured, gritty, and carries a wallop of almost punishing acidity. But… the red, plummy fruits and berries are so lovable, so bright, so tart and biting in all of the right places, that the wine is instantly likable, akin to the mix of undeniable showmanship, cuteness, and acerbic wit that marked the best episodes of the original Muppet Show.

Wiegner wines






  • alisonmarriott

    Visiting Sicily is already high on my list as I adore the wines, and this post is only bumping it higher! Great write up- he sounds like a character in the best sort of way. Cheers!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Alison – I’m actually heading *back* there soon (yeah, Sicily is *that* awesome). Gotta love the characters in the wine biz, right? :)

  • Karen La Rosa

    I’m heading there in a few weeks and to meet with Peter. Arranging a fabulous wine tour of Mount Etna for next May. Anyone want to come?? (Will be on the website next week) larosaworks.com

    • 1WineDude

      Nice! I’ll be back there sooner than that, actually!

  • SAHMmelier

    I would have loved to be an observer of this dynamic. Sounds like an amazing trip.

    • 1winedude

      SAHM, I’m tame at these visits ;-)

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