Spurring from the Italian word carica (“load”), the name of this white grape variety reveals its characteristic of high production rates. Not only is Carricante a one-zone variety (it is only produced on and around Mount Etna), but it also accounts for 95% of the white grapes grown on the slopes of this volcano. The vines are found on the southern and eastern slopes of Mount Etna at extremely high altitudes. The grapes are elliptical in shape and bear a thick, yellow-green skin. The bunches are organized into a cylindrical-conical formation that is medium-large in size.
The main wines produced from Carricante are Etna Bianco DOC (minimum 60% Carricante) and Etna Bianco Superiore DOC (minimum 80% Carricante), both of which can be either monovarietal, or blended with other local grapes like Minnella or Cataratto. Due to the high acidity of this variety, winemakers often employ a process of malolactic fermentation in producing these wines. This is a form of secondary fermentation in which the harsh malic acid present in the grape must is converted to a lower-acidity lactic acid. Another technique to reduce the acidity is harvesting the grapes as late as possible, allowing them to ripen to their full potential. These wines generally have low alcohol content and express aromas of orange flower, chamomile, lemon, aniseed, unripe apricot and minerals. Unlike most white wines, Carricante productions can benefit from about ten years of aging.