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Calabretta Nerello Mascalese V.V. 2011

The wines hail from Etna Rosso in North-eastern Sicily. The grapes here are primarily the indigenous Nerello Mascalese with a bit Nerello Cappuccio interplanted. The vineyards are planted between 300 and 900 meters on the slopes of Mount Etna, an active volcano that looms in the distance for much of eastern Sicily. The soils are a combination of black volcanic ash and sand which are fine and almost silty, with lots of lava rocks and good drainage. Most of the vines are 70-80 years old, with a good portion ungrafted. They are organically farmed. The Etna Rosso is aged for 6-7 years in large Botti before being bottled. There is an old Nebbiolo-like profile to the wines. The aromas are steeped in dried cherries, tar, licorice, and hints of ashy/volcanic soil tones. Given the high elevation and big diurnal temperature shifts (they have ski slopes on Etna as well!), the wines retain a freshness and delineation that recalls a mature Barolo, northern Rhone or even a sturdier, earthier red Burg. Also, with the provenance and age of the wines, they represent a terrific relative value.