As Goethe once said – “To understand Italy, Sicily is the clue to everything.” And perhaps, no region better expresses the passion that the country brings to its wines more so than the island at the tip of Italy’s boot.
And that passion is most pronounced in the small region that is now attracting winemakers world wide to its tiny boundaries – Mt Etna. Where winegrowers literally feel the ground rumble below them and where active massive eruptions are still a distinct reality (there was one just last year).
So why are these winemakers literally taking their life in their hands just to work a few hectares of land? Because there are no vineyards like it in the world.
The soil here is mineral rich, but nutrient poor, composed of ash, decomposed lava and sand. The wines crafted off these soils are complex– deeply concentrated with dark rich fruit, featuring a silky weave of soft tannins and a great backbone for aging. As Jancis Robinson once famously opined “Is Etna the Burgundy of the Mediterranean?”
With super hot and dry summers and cool, mountainous nights along the volcano, the grapes ripen later than almost all others throughout the world, coming into its own in mid-late October when most of the rest of Italy has long since picked.
In their rave 93-point review of the wine, Vinous called it, “Lovely stuff” calling it, “Ripe and expansive but also very pure and clean on the palate.” Of the very few wines that make it stateside from this tiny volcano rim, my favorite by far is from Tenuta di Fessina. If you have time to sit and drink it– it will marvel. It takes time to unwind in the glass, constantly pealing back new layers of intricacy. Red and black currants with smooth tannins and a hint of bramble and baking spice on the finish. This is an impeccably balanced wine.
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93 Points, Vinous Media
Deep red-ruby. Flamboyant aromas of plum, chestnut and violet with high-pitched notes of spicy plum sauce. Sweet, ripe and expansive but also very pure and clean on the palate, this medium-bodied wine is tangy and penetrating today. Closes long and suave with lively acids but avoids coming off as hard. Lovely stuff.
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