Showing posts with label Nerello Mascalese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nerello Mascalese. Show all posts

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
2016

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.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Etna Rosso For Eggplant

Italian food belongs with Italian wine, but be careful with the grape you choose.  I generally order a Sangiovese wine with any Italian dish, whether tomato or meat-based.  However, I discovered another grape the other day that simply didn't hit it off with spaghetti, but paired nicely with eggplant.

The Benanti Etna Rosso is made with two grapes named Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, 85% the former and 15% the latter.  They are both believed to be related to Sangiovese.  Eighty-percent of the wine was aged in steel tanks, the rest in French oak barriques for ten months.  Alcohol sits at 13.5% abv and retail looks to be around $20.  

James Lawrence writes that the property has been in Giuseppe Benanti's family for centuries.  He revitalized it in the 1980s and handed it down to his sons, Antonio and Salvino.  The vines grow in Viagrande, Sicily - on the slopes of Mt. Etna - an active volcano that has wiped out the towns below it seven times already.  Giuseppe shrugs off the threat and says there's no point in worrying about it. 

This wine smells and tastes like Burgundy with a volcano in it.  The nose carries earthy-yet-floral notes on a mineral base.  The palate is not exactly like Pinot Noir, but not exactly like Sangiovese, either. It paired much better with the involtini than it did with the tomato sauce spaghetti.  I guess those Sicilian grapes like eggplant better.  It showed a bit of brown around the edge, not something you see often in a young wine.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter