“The White Lotus” Wines
Sip along with the stars with some of Sicily's best.
By the time we get to episode five of The White Lotus—the wine-tasting scene in which the two young couples visit Planeta wine estate on Mount Etna—one or both husbands might have had a vacation fling with young Sicilian prostitutes. In this second season of the show, now streaming on HBO Max, The White Lotus creator Mike White takes his band of entitled, dysfunctional vacationers to the stunning San Domenico Palace, perched on a promontory overlooking the Ionian Sea in Taormina, Sicily. Along with creating hysterical human dramas, the series showcases the island’s spectacular sites, among them, its high-altitude vineyards. Each season revolves around a theme; season one in Maui was “money.” Season two is “sex.”
The two couples book a car to Mount Etna to check out a winery. Daphne, who’s married to Cameron, comments: “Apparently, the wine has a bunch of volcanic minerals in it.” The wine tasting gets out of hand when over-served Harper interrogates the men: “Have you two ever slept with the same girl?” “Ever invited a girl to your dorm room to play naked Twister?” Meanwhile, all I could think was, “What are they drinking?”
It turns out they were drinking some of Italy’s best from the family-owned Planeta estate, which traces its beginnings back to the 1600s and has six distinct wine properties across the five regions of Sicily. Planeta’s Etna cru grapes are grown in the Sciaranuova vineyard at 2,550 feet above sea level—its soils rich in stones, minerals and ash. The wines are made at the Mount Etna winery built in the center of a 15th-century lava flow.
For several years the Etna region has become trendy—the most desirable region for interesting wines known for their minerality, which comes from grapes being grown along the volcanic slopes. The Etna wines are crafted from indigenous Sicilian varieties. The white, Carricante, has lively acidity and citrus aromas along with a slatey mineral character—perfect with grilled fish or ceviche. The red, Nerello Mascalese—a dark-skinned noble grape—makes a fresh fruity wine with herbal, minerally and earthy notes like a Barolo. Best pairs are wild mushroom dishes, game in red-wine sauce or linguine alle vongole.
For season three, there are hints that the show will take us to Asia and that the theme is “religion.” I wonder what wines will appear. I’d suggest St. Francis Winery, named for Franciscan missionaries who first planted grapes in Sonoma in the mid-1800s.
The print version of this article appeared with the headline: “The White Lotus” Wines.