The thing to look for here is the words ‘Etna Rosso’ on the label. Loosely translated that means red wine of Mt. Etna. There’s also Etna Bianco which means white wine of Mt. Etna. The Rosso is made from Nerello Mascalese, which can best be described as a grape that might be the love child of Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Like those two grapes, Nerello is a cool climate grape exhibiting lighter color and semi-transparent color in the glass.
Mount Etna is Europe’s largest (active) volcano located almost 3,000 feet above sea level on the island of Sicily. Vineyards planted high up on the slopes of an active volcano make for an interesting setting to produce a luxurious style wine with finesse and personality.
That high elevation provides a cool climate well suited for a cool skin grape like Nerello. And rocky sandy soils set the stage for pre-Phylloxera vines to flourish resulting in an earthy wine full of ripe and dried red fruits reminiscent of a good red Burgundy. This particular wine is a wonderful wine to discover, because discovering new favorites is fun. But also because Pinot Noir lovers will enjoy the black cherry, dried cherry and damp earth notes. Nebbiolo lovers will enjoy the complexity of the wine from the dried and lush ripe fruits. Both will love the acidity and affordability.
This was one of the wines I really enjoyed in 2012 and hope you can find one to enjoy this month and that’s why it’s on the 12 Wines of Christmas list. Cheers!