Growing grapes on the slopes of one of the world’s most active volcanoes is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. But when you taste the results, you can’t deny the allure of this most dangerous of viticultural ventures. Sicily’s Mount Etna erupted for the 11th time in 2011 last Saturday and we’ve been uncorking bottles of Etna Rosso, Bianco, and even Rosato all month long! One of our favorite producers of vino dell’Etna, Terre Nere, is back in the market and tasting better than ever.
Celebrated importer Marc de Grazia has decided to take a shot at making his own wine from neglected vineyards on the slopes of Mount Etna. Many of these vineyards were are over 100 years old with vines that pre-dated the phylloxera disaster of the 19th century. De Grazia saw the potential in these old sites and began making wines that started a revival of this ancient wine region. His Etna Bianco is a blend of the truly obscure; Carricante, Catarrato, Inzolia, and Grecanico. You’ll discover aromas of flowers and flavors of mineral-laced white fruits in this delicious white.
Normally, our allocation of Terre Nere’s beautiful rosé is claimed each year by one of our guests who absolutely adores the unique notes of cherries, licorice, earth, and minerals that this wine possesses. This year, however, we secured 5 cases and are able to put it out on the shelf for the rest of us! If you’re looking for more complexity in your rosé, this one based on the Sicilian red grapes Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccino is a must try!
What makes wine from Mount Etna so special is the unique qualities of the grape Nerello Mascalese and its affinity for volcanic soils. Vines here do not need to be grafted onto phylloxera-resistant root stocks but instead grow on their own roots. Many compare the flavors of Nerello Mascalese to that of Pinot Noir, a comparison that makes sense given its ability to express the terroir of Mount Etna so clearly. This entry level red from Terre Nere shows intriguing notes of herbs, leather, red fruits, and minerals, all on a medium-bodied frame. If this piques your interest, you may want to try some of the higher-end single vineyard wines from Terre Nere; ask us, we may be able to source some for you!