Winery of the Month – APR 2018
How would you like to have a vineyard on the most active volcano in Europe? This is the situation for producers on Mt Etna. While the volcano exists in a constant state of activity there are a lot of advantages to producing wine here. Not surprisingly the soils are volcanic and very mineral rich. Etna is about 11000 feet above sea level, but vines are only planted between 1000 feet and 4000 feet above sea level.
Producers continue to push the boundary and experiment with vines planted higher up the slopes. The elevation can have a dramatic affect on temperatures. Mt Etna is about the only place on Sicily that has to worry about ripeness. To counter act this most of the slopes are east facing to absorb the most sunlight and the light bouncing off the Mediterranean during the day. All of these factors can make for a very long growing season which makes for balanced and complex wines.
For wines carrying the Etna Rosso DOC at least 80% must be Norello Mascalese, with the remainder being Norello Cappuccio. The whites are at least 60% Carricante, 80% for a Superiore label, and the remainder coming from Catarratto and very minor amounts of other local grapes. There is a Rose that relies on the blend of the two Norellos. There is also an interesting Sparkler. Most of the sparkling producers use Norello Mascalese but some use the white varieties and there is even a little pinot noir used as well. As one would expect the wines from Etna tend to be lighter and softer than those from the rest of Sicily but are generally more balanced and much more complex. Try these examples and see for yourself.
Murgo Metodo Classico Brut
This wine is entirely Norello Mascalese. The second fermentation is done in the bottle as it is in Champagne. The wine is then aged on the lees for 24 months before disgorgement. This produces a wine with a lot of the same yeasty notes that are found in Champagnes for a fraction of the price. You will also taste fresh green apple and a little pear. 4000 cases made
Regularly $21.99 Sale $16.99
Murgo Etna Bianco
This wine is a prototype of Etna Bianco with a blend of 70% Carricante and 30% Catarratto. Bright fresh citrus flavors abound with some slate like flavors underneath. Pair it with any fresh seafood dish and taste it shine. 4000 cases made
Regularly $19.99 Sale $14.99
Murgo Etna Rosato
Fresh and vibrant with bright juicy red berry fruit everywhere. This is what you expect from a rose. It pairs well with fresh seafood to light tomato based sauces, for fun try it with Asian foods. While you do not see many Etna roses yet, you will in coming years.
Regularly $19.99 Sale $14.99
Tenute Terre Nerre Etna Rosso
Terre Nerre makes arguably the greatest Etna Rosso. Medium Bodied with crisp acidity and slight tannins the wine is well balanced and displays both red and black fruit flavors. Several past vintages of this wine have been in Wine Spectators Top 100.
Regularly $24.99 Sale $18.99
Tenute Terre Nerre Calderara Sottano
Now we have a very interesting wine. It is composed of four vineyards inside with vines between 50 and 100 years old. One of the vineyards actually has vines that are 140 years old. Black Berries are prevalent with some light red fruit as well but also flavors of Balsamic, Rosemary, and Fennel.
Regularly $45.99 Sale $34.99