Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 5, 2019

2016 Passopisciaro “Passorosso” Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily, Italy -photo grapelive

2016 Passopisciaro “Passorosso” Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily, Italy.
The beautifully detailed and flavored 2016 Passopisciaro Passorosso, which is a medium bodied Nerello Mascalese from the north side of Mount Etna has the class, complexity and style that certainly would impress the most ardent Cote d’Or fan and rivals Italian offerings from the major and or more famous regions. This vintage impresses on the palate with layers of black cherry, plum, strawberry and blood orange fruits along with it’s volcanic soul of red pepper, iron/flinty minerals, saline, tart acidity and delicate smoke and flowers. The textural richness and length is admirable, without any flab to be found, this is a precise and focused wine that really makes an impact in the glass, showing a mysterious combination of seductive fruity intensity, savory tones and the inviting bright ruby/garnet color.

Passopisciaro, which was founded by Tuscan vintner Andrea Franchetti after he visited Sicily in 2000, he was keenly interested and intrigued by the seemingly lost and abandoned vineyards on the northern side of Mount Etna with their unique characteristics of high-elevation terraces on the mineral infused and complex black lava soils. The climate on the north side of the volcano is surprisingly cool and varies greatly in day and night temperatures, this helps add the vital acidity to keep these wines from the ancient local Nerello Mascalese grape fresh and almost dare we say Burgundian in style, this has made Etna one of the world’s hottest spots for wine in the last 15 years.

Through the years Franchetti has come to understand the beguiling Nerello Mascalese, at first he found it too light and crisp for his taste, but over the years he’s found it’s sweet spot and his has embraced the old feudal system of the contrada wines, that single out special and historic terroirs, it is like single vineyard or crus for this part of the region and he now does five conttrada Nerello based red wines, plus this multi plot Passorosso Etna Rosso DOC, which can only be made if the wine is grown and made within the DOC. Nerello is his main focus with Passopisciaro, which has become one of the most sought after wines on Sicily.

This Passorooso is made with stainless steel temperature-controlled fermentation(s) from all organic and biodynamic grown grapes using selected yeasts to avoid any volatile acidity and then raised in neutral French oak casts for 18 months. The vines for this Passorosso were planted between 1913 and 1943, so there’s plenty of vine age and the wine is always concentrated and full of old vine character, this is especially true of this latest 2016 release, which is 100% Nerello Mascalese that came at a near perfect ripeness at 14% natural alcohol and very expressive in detail and impressive in its depth of flavors and length. This is quality stuff and a great place to start if you haven’t explored the wines of Mount Etna in any meaningful way, this region has lots to love, and this wine clearly expresses this, and it should drink well for many years to come.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive