They’ve been making wine on the northern slopes of Mount Etna since 800 B.C. But only recently have the wines of this active Sicilian volcano gained international attention. Part of that can be attributed to the history of Southern Italy, whose agricultural regions suffered an exodus of labor to the cities and abroad for much of the modern era. A vineyard revival that started in the 1990s, however, has finally begun to produce spectacular results with a reembracing of ancient grapes like Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, which thrive in the high elevations and rich volcanic soils, resulting in red wines that bring lively minerality and bright fresh flavors.
This entry-level Etna Rosso by Tenuta delle Terre Nere, which also produces several coveted single-vineyard “crus” that vary greatly due to the area’s volcanic history, is a perfect starting point. The wine is made from grapes farmed organically at some of the highest altitudes in Italy, and some from low-yielding pre-phylloxera vines as old as 140 years. It has a midweight similar to a pinot noir and shares some traits of a good Burgundy — a core of vivid red raspberry fruit wrapped in earth, herbal notes, and acidity — but with an elegance that allows it to pair with a wide variety of foods, from poultry to tuna.
— Craig LaBan
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2016, $21.99. PLCB # 74461.