2013 Graci Etna Rosso
Region: Mt. Etna < Sicily < Italy
Grapes: Nerello Mascalese
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; high-altitude vineyards planted at 1000 meters (3300 feet) on chunky, rocky black volcanic soils; cement fermented in concrete then aged 18 months in concrete vats; bottled unfined/unfiltered
Winemaker: Alberto Graci
You’ve probably heard about the wines of Etna. They’re hot, perennial sommelier darlings, often compared to the best of Burgundy. And for good reason – when they’re good (and they usually can’t help but be), they’re effing amazing! Alberto Graci, whose vineyards lie on the north slope of Mount Etna, demonstrates why: extremely high-altitude vineyards at 600-1,000 meters (2000-3300 feet) above sea level; most of the vines still on original rootstock, ungrafted, having never been affected by phylloxera; rocky, mineral rich volcanic soils; no need for herbicides or fungicides in this barren volcanic desert; and no barrique aging – neutral concrete is the aging vessel of choice for Graci and many of his compadres. As for the volcano itself, it’s just part of the landscape – Alberto sums up the Sicilian fatalist ethos, “Lava? We don’t care. It’s normal for us.” While many Etna wines are pleasurably rustic, there are no rough edges here – Alberto’s wines are all about finesse and elegance. You get a firm structure, with a cornucopia of Mediterranean flavors – rose, black cherry, fig, and oregano – plus a layer of volcanic smoke and flinty mineral, all wrapped up in a tight, bright package. One of the best entry level Etna Rossos around! Excellent now, but can age for 5+ years.