Based on the recent successes of prestige TV shows like Succession, Servant, Big Little Lies and now The White Lotus, it’s safe to say that we’ve all been craving a little Lifestyles of the Rich–style escapism these past few years. Especially the kind where the obscenely rich wallow in self-made misery.
Season 1 of filmmaker Mike White’s HBO smash The White Lotus inspired renewed adoration for its real-life set, the Four Seasons Resorts Maui at Wailea (home to Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winner Duo Steak and Seafood and chef Wolfgang Puck’s Best of Award of Excellence winner Spago Maui).
Season 1 star Jennifer Coolidge returns for season 2, which has all eyes on Sicily, joined by a new cast starring Aubrey Plaza, Theo James, Meghann Fahy and Michael Imperioli (who may have picked up a few wine tips over the years from his Sopranos co-stars Drea de Matteo, Lorraine Bracco and Jamie-Lynn Sigler).
Basecamp for season 2 of White Lotus is another Four Seasons property, Sicily’s San Domenico Palace in lively Taormina. And while season 2 remains first and foremost a satire on privilege, it has also been a love letter to Sicily. The cast of antiheroes enjoys numerous excursions which serve as opportunities to showcase the Italian island’s many attractions, including the cities of Palermo (including Villa Tasca), Noto and, most notably for wine lovers, Planeta estate’s Sciaranuova vineyard and winery on the north side of Mount Etna.
And brothers Vito and Alessio Planeta couldn’t be happier with their winery’s star turn on HBO. “We were contacted in February by Lucky Red, probably the most admired Italian independent film producer house, founded in 1987, the local partner of HBO,” Vito and Alessio told Wine Spectator via email. “We were thrilled, knowing the extreme quality and originality of all the HBO productions. Our philosophy includes preserving authentic values of Sicily in an original way. The fact that they chose Sciaranuova we think was driven by the will of showing a slice of the real Sicily, and it made us proud.”
The cast and crew of The White Lotus spent two full days at Planeta in early May. “The timetable was very tight, because weather forecasts gave a 50 percent chance of rain,” said Vito and Alessio. “In the end, it was gloriously sunny! We’ll never forget: 15 minutes after the final ‘Stop,’ it started to rain!"
"On the other hand, we interacted with almost all the crew, from the electricians and the movers to the HBO Big Kahunas. For obvious reasons, few of them tasted wine before the end of the working day, but many of them already knew some of our wines: They spent two to three months in Sicily. At the end of the [shoot], we had also sold wine to 56 of about 100 cast and crew, from just a couple of bottles to bring to the hotel to cases shipping to U.S.A. or Rome.”
Three Planeta wines starred in the episode: Planeta Carricante Sicilia Eruzione 1614 2018 (91 points, $27), Planeta Nerello Mascalese Sicilia Eruzione 1614 2018 (90, $35) and Planeta Etna Bianco 2020.
So what did the Planeta brothers think of White Lotus’ wine-tasting episode? “The impression was the confirmation of what we noticed during the shooting: extreme quality in all aspects of this production, with that sort of obsessive care for details that recalls the directors of the past century, [such as] [Luchino] Visconti and [Michael] Cimino.”
The season 2 finale of The White Lotus airs this Sunday, Dec. 11, at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.
Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.