Producer Spotlight: Meet Penny from Planeta
Last month, we were lucky enough to catch up with Penny, from Planeta, while she was in the U.K. We have spoken at length many times about the spread of amazing vineyards in Sicily that allow Planeta to produce their stunning wines. So, we wanted to quiz Penny about something new (albeit still wine-related). Our second love next to wine is food, and they are so often enjoyed well together, so it seemed a natural fit.
Penny, you must do a lot of travelling in your role, what are some of the favourite places you have been?
I should say England as it is so beautiful on a sunny day, but as I am English I will say that working a lot in the USA there are many wonderful places, Dubai is a fun place to visit and Japan one of my favourite places. The people there are so open to receiving information and are thirsty for knowledge; they appreciate it so much. It is also a very beautiful country with my favourite cuisine.
Let’s talk about food, something that is a big part of Sicilian culture as well wine culture too.
What is the best food and wine pairing you have ever experienced?
One of the best food pairings that I remember was my friend Federico Cerretto’s Ceretto Bricco Rocche Brunate DOCG Barolo matched with Tagliolini with truffles; it still remains in my mind today.
And the worst?
Artichokes, no matter what wine you pair with them. In reality it’s probably because I really do not like them at all. Francesca Planeta is always laughing as November to March in Sicily is the Artichoke season, and she has problems creating menus when I am there.
Your favourite dish to cook?
I love cooking, especially Italian and Sicilian food. I enjoy making a risotto, very Italian but it’s not very Sicilian, so I should probably tell you my favourite Sicilian dish to prepare. Pasta alla Norma is a favourite of mine. I make everything from scratch, including the tomato sauce.
Best restaurant you have eaten at?
I am very fortunate to have eaten at some of the best restaurants all over the world, so that makes this question quite difficult. One that really stands out is Locanda Locatelli, in London. Specifically, this one dish I had that was simple but so effective; a soft boiled egg with truffle, divine. I’m talking about truffles again….
What ingredient are you obsessed with at the moment?
Fish, specifically ‘crudo’ which means raw, I love Sushi, like raw tuna with wasabi. Sicily has incredible seafood, and a lot of it, so we are very lucky really.
Think of your favourite wine from all those that Planeta has produced; what dish would you make to serve alongside it?
Ooh that’s difficult to answer, when you have many children it’s hard to choose your favourite! As you know children can have days when they are naughty and days they are good as gold. But, if I had to choose one today, it would be Eruzione 1614 Carricante 2016. This wine is an explosion of ripe fruit, aromatics and white flowers; if you close your eyes, you will imagine being at Etna. To bring out the best in it, I would make a dish of butterfish with white sauce and baby shrimps.
What do you think is going to happen in the world of wine in the future? What trends can you see emerging?
The rosé trend is one that is still so popular right now, and I think it has a good few years left in it, so that will stay around for a while longer.
Of course, living in Sicily I see first-hand the trends from there. The land of Etna is a trend now, but it is one that is here to stay, and will soon become as well known a region as any for producing fine wines. Something very new and exciting that I also see taking off is the Grillo grape. It is quite popular in Sicilian wine making, and people are started to become attached to it and loving the intricacies of its flavour. It’s a very aromatic grape, strong with grapefruit and citrus flavours but still with delicate white flower notes. The palate is full and rich but has a fresh acidity to it too.
Lastly, what is it about Planeta wines that makes them so special?
First of all, it’s the passion that the family has; they foresaw the great quality of Sicilian wines and were the entrepreneurs of the wine making trade there. They also know the importance of not just producing wines from one area, but from exploring the region until you find the best area to produce the best wine. Sicily is like a baby continent, and there is such an array of different terroirs, climates and altitudes. This means we can make wines that are fresh, light and fruity like Frappato, beautiful aromatics like Terebinto, wines full of volcanic minerality like Etna Bianco, rich wines like Santa Cecilia and also wines from historical areas, like Capo Milazzo where the Mamertino DOC comes from, wines with documented evidence that goes back to the period of Julius Caesar.
All our Planeta wines can be viewed here.