2018 Ayunta Nerello Mascalese Rosato Terre Siciliane
Region: Mt. Etna < Sicily
Grapes: Nerello Mascalese
Farming Practice: Organic farming; 50-100 year-old on Etna’s volcanic soils; grapes are softly pressed in order to not extract too much coloring (no maceration), followed by spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel and aged in cement for 7 months; 500 cases; 13% ABV
Winemaker: Filippo Ayunta
MOUNTAIN MAGIC: Mt. Etna is the highest volcano in Europe, and one of the world’s most active. It tops out at nearly 11,000 feet (you can ski Etna - yes, skiing in Sicily!) and vineyards dot the black volcanic landscape as pretty high up the mountain.We love Etna wines, especially ones that come from small and scrappy one man (or woman) operations, like this project from Filippo Ayunta, who still holds down a day job (as export manager for a big Northern Italian winery). He grew up on the other side of the Sicilian island, where his family grew grapes and made wine until grandpa died and the estate had to be sold off. Years later, walking the slopes of Etna, Filippo met the old owner of a nearly abandoned vineyard in Calderara Sottana who wanted someone to continue his life’s work. He told Filippo, “Take it. Don’t let this vineyard die.” So Filippo spent his entire savings to buy the vineyard, and now makes wine from a few parcels around Randazzo on northern Etna, totaling 2.8 hectares of super old vines. Filippo guesses they are up to 300 years old each. He also renovated the original palmento (open-topped stone fermenter) next to his house, where the wine basically makes itself using the indigenous yeast that has been helping ferment wine since before the early 1800s. All of his wines are fantastic, but we were especially intrigued by his coppery rosato, inspired by Provencal rosé, that is fresh, briny and flinty. It’s a serious wine that would be lovely with all kinds of food, or none at all.