2017 Tenuta Tascante, Contrada Rampante, Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily, Italy.
The 2017 Tenuta Tascante Contrada Rampante is warmly ripe and spicy, highlighting the year’s heat and the terroir influence here in Mount Etna with its lava and basalt based soils and the elevation allowing a depth and finesse here that is very alluring and enjoyable. The fruit concentration is pure and lush here with a silky medium/full bodied palate of brambly raspberry, racy cherry, wild plum and candied orange rind, dried red peppers, anise, crushed stones, Thai basil and delicate floral notes. Made from 100% Nerello Mascalese, the most noble of Mount Etna’s varietals, with all the grapes being grown sustainably and the vines are hand tended, with the Contada Rampante being planted in 2000 and just entering full maturity. This Cru bottling by the Tasca family and Tenuta Tascante was crafted by Stefano Masciarelli, the winemaker here using all de-stemmed grapes and fermented in tank with a selected yeast with a gentle and cool maceration to promote clarity and give the wine a less rustic or earthy personality. This ruby/garnet hued wine is very polished and smooth, it is delicious effort that will certainly appeal to newcomers to this region’s wines.

Mount Etna, which is Europe’s largest active volcano, is the Island’s most significant landmark, it is located on the eastern side of Sicily and is home to some of Italy’s best terroir driven and nuanced wines. The Contrada Rampante (Cru) single vineyard is located in Sicilies Castiglione di Sicilia, between Passopisciaro and Randazzo, in maybe the Volcano’s best grape growing zone, on the Northern side of Mount Etna, where the vines see cooler conditions and the grapes show a finer balance and complexity, it’s why these wines are nicknamed the Burgundy of the south or Sicily. This vineyard that has large dry-stone wall terraces at an average slope of 4.7% with soils that were formed between 4,000 – 15,000 years ago, the Etna DOC is divided into 132 Contrade, or wine districts, with each Contrada being characterized by its soil components and the age of the lava underpinning of each site. Masciarelli did his best here to make this wine appealing to a wide range of wine lovers, but to also wanted it to be expressive with a sense of place, and to achieve this he aged this Contrada Rampante in large Slavonian oak casks for a full 12 months and kept it in bottle for another year in the cellar before release. There’s a lot to like here and this wine is a great way to start exploring the wines of Mount Etna, with this wine’s poise and polish makes it easy to love, especially with Sicilian inspired cuisine and or hard cheeses.
($45 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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