Wines from Sicily have soared in popularity. There is no doubt, serious wines are being crafted on the big island off Italy’s ‘toe’. However, much of the action is driven by the value offered by easy drinking wines like Nero ‘d Avola.
What I’d like to focus on in this piece, are the unique red wines coming from vineyards located on the slopes of Mt. Etna. This place is not only a magical but it is full of mystique as well.
The wines from the grapes grown on Europe’s largest active volcano, are Italy’s version of Burgundy. These beauties are no longer a secret, the time to check them out is now!
Reds from Mt. Etna, known as Etna Rosso, must contain at least 80 percent of Nerello Mascalese, a grape indigenous to Mt. Etna. The other component requirement is that at least 10 percent of Nerello Cappucino be in the blend.
It is up to the winemaker whether they decide to use oak, stainless steel or cement vessels during the vinification process.
At a couple of thousand feet, the vineyards on Mt. Etna are some of the highest in the world. That elevation creates large day/night temperature swings that preserve a grapes acidity. It also tempers sugar, allowing more flavors to develop and gain complexity.
That special factor is just part of what makes these wines special. Since Mt. Etna is an active volcano, the soil the vines are planted in contain components that differentiates it from other terroir; black volcanic lava and a good dose of sand.
This unique soil imparts highly desired minerality and acidity.
Usually medium bodied, Etna Rossos go well with food. Common flavor profiles are blackcurrant, dark cherry, wild strawberry along with spice notes of cinnamon and herbs. There may be tobacco and earth tone hints but all the wines are generally silky and delicious.
Most Etna Rossos are not expensive and do not require cellaring, thus can be enjoyed immediately. Additionally, most producers utilize organic methods, shying away from the use of insecticides.
I hope to have presented enough motivation to get you to check these wines out.