2016 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily, Italy.
The spicy Mediterranean red from Mount Etna is a sublime value and a fine and textured wine to start exploring this wonderful and ancient region on Sicily’s volcano. Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, one of the main standard barer producers on Etna and this entry level Etna Rosso DOC is a sleek and mineral/terroir driven red made from mostly Nerello Mascalese, which makes up about 95% and Nerello Cappuccio making up the rest, all coming from the cooler northern side of Etna on volcanic soils and includes vines from multiple plots that are between 5 and 50 years old. Nerello Mascalese is one of the hottest grapes on earth right now and these Mount Etna reds are considered some of Italy’s greatest wines, being likened to Burgundy in graceful class and transparency. Terre Nere has a great selection of single site parcels, these Crus known locally as “Contrade(s)” and make individual wines from them, much in the same way you see in Burgundy, similar to places like Nuits-Saint-Nuits, all based on historic boundaries and quality, and this wine is a region blend mostly from around the township of Castiglione di Sicilia at high elevation and on sloping hillsides formed by the ever present volcano.
The light to medium bodied 2016 vintage of Terre Nere Etna Rosso DOC is delicately perfumed, flinty and has a gentle ruby hue in the glass with satiny and ripe layers of brandied cherries, racy plum, raspberry and cranberry fruits, crushed shale, lavender, anise, blood orange and iron rich mineral tones, lingering on with red pepper, chalky stones and rose petals. Tenuta Della Terre Nere crushes and macerates the grapes together and primary is done in vats before aging for about 12 months in barrel, mostly used to preserve the wines fresh details, making for a savory and authentic red that gives a true and pure sense of place. This wine, brilliant with an array of cuisine, especially the local dishes of Sicily, goes great with California’s flavors, including seafood and wild mushroom dishes. With air this basic Etna gains classic Nerello Mascalese form and complexity, taking on a Pinot like character and mouth feel, this is a pretty and tasty wine to enjoy over the next 3 to 5 years. This wine is joyous for it’s polish and clarity, while there is more serious stuff from Etna, such as Passopisciaro, Salvo Foti, Benanti, Gulfi and Tornatore to name a few, as well as Terre Nere’s cru offerings, this basic wine delivers everything you’d want from a wine of this price.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive