Monday, June 21, 2021

Two Wines From Sicily

This is the final installment in my virtual tour of Italy.  The wines I have covered - all 48 of them - were mostly Tre Bicchieri award winners from Gambero Rosso, the international Italian wine guide.  Tasting four dozen Italian wines over several Zoom meetings was exactly what I needed to spice up my socially distanced life back in March.  In fact, I'll do it again any time.  With pleasure.

Pietradolce Etna Rosso Archineri 2017 is made completely from the Sicilian grape Nerello Mascalese.  Some people feel it is a lot like Pinot Noir, but I find it a lot livelier, more muscular than a typical Pinot.  The vines from which these grapes came are 80 to 90 years old - prephylloxera - on the northern slopes of Mt. Etna.  

Owner Michele Faro spoke fondly of the volcanic soil during the Zoom gathering and he even brought some freshly fallen volcanic ash with him as show-and-tell.

The wine was aged 14 months in French oak tonneaux, has alcohol at 15% abv and sells for around $40.

This wine does a little Pinot Noir act, medium ruby in the glass with earthy red fruit on the nose.  The nose also offers notes of coffee, sage and eucalyptus.  The palate definitely shows the volcanic origin along with spice and pepper, plus a firm tannic structure and a ripping acidity.  The sip finishes clean and savory.  Very tasty.

Cottanera Etna Rosso Feudo di Mezzo

From Sicily again, 100% Nerello Mascalese which was aged 14 to 16 months in French oak casks, then 18 months in the bottle.  Alcohol is tamer in this one, 13.5% abv, and it averages around $26 on the cash register.

This wine is medium ruby in the glass and smells of raspberry, cherry, anise and an earthy note.  The palate is like a more savory take on Pinot Noir, with coffee, red fruit and spicy herbs.  The tannins are very firm and the acidity is fresh.  There is a long finish which carries the red fruit back.  If it's an outdoor occasion this summer, the Cottanera takes a chill well.

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