Etna, a relatively obscure wine only years ago, has gained great appreciation over the past few years and is arguably Sicily’s most prestigious wine today. One might assume being from Sicily that these wines are heavy, fruity, warm weather wines but that is not at all the case. The wines are grown on volcanic soils (Etna is an active volcano) at high altitudes and produced from rarely seen grape varieties like Nerello Mascalese (rosso) and Caricante (bianco). These wines have the weight and structure of Burgundy with a flavor profile unique to Etna’s volcanic soils.
Alberto Graci is one of the young guard and a rising star of Etna. Upon the death of his grandfather he returned to Sicily, sold his grandfather’s vineyards and moved to Etna. Graci has 18 hectares of vineyards largely in the Passopisciaro area of the region. His approach to wine is minimalistic letting his wines speak of Etna. He eschews French barrique, selected yeasts and temperature control. The results are sincere wines that convey Etna in the glass.
The 2010 Etna Rosso is the most structured and balanced I’ve tasted of his normale bottling yet. There is a nice core of tannin, red fruit and refreshing acidity…very aromatic with cherries, wildflowers and volcanic ash jumping from the glass. The wine is still a little tight on the finish and not showing everything now that it will in the coming years. Decanting is recommended.
Etna Rosso is quite versatile with food due to its mid-weight, low tannin structure. If you must have red wine with seafood, Etna Rosso is a great choice. Even rarer than Etna Rosso is Etna Bianco. Benanti Etna Bianco Pietramarina is a favorite Italian white.