Etna Rosso: Wine from the Slopes of an Active Volcano #ItalianFWT
Volcanic Wines Erupt on #ItalianFWT
This month, our Italian Food Wine & Travel group is exploring the topic of Volcanic Wines from Italy. Cruise down further in this post to see what my fellow Italophiles have posted, and if you see this in time, join our chat. Saturday, Sept. 3 at 10am CDT look for the #ItalianFWT hashtag on Twitter. We love visitors!
The Mystery of Mt. Etna – Active Volcano and Vineyard
On our first Italian Food Wine & Travel group’s virtual trip through Italy, I fell completely in love with Sicily. A very large island off the toe of Italy’s boot, Sicily offers an incredible variety of landscapes, seaside, grapes, and foods. After all, where else in the world do you eat a gelato filled brioche for breakfast?
I sampled a variety of wines during our first virtual visit to Sicily, and my favorite, head and shoulders above the rest, was Etna Rosso. Imagine a red wine which has some similarity to both Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you might expect to taste.
Fast Facts about Etna Rosso
- Etna Rosso is a light to medium bodied red wine, made from Nerello Mascalese (at least 80%) and Nerello Capuccio. These grapes are native to Sicily.
- The entire Etna Rosso DOC area is located on Mt. Etna, the only active volcano with vineyards on its’ slopes.
- Volcanic Soil – Mt Etna is in a near constant state of eruption bringing new lava flows, everchanging soil due to new soil deposits from the plume. The soil is high in mineral nutrients, very rapid draining.
- The DOC area consists of a semicircle around the N, E & S sides of Mt. Etna at 400-1000m altitude – which is very high altitude for grape growing.
- The southern location with high altitude means the climate brings hot direct sunlight but cool shade and cold nights. Little rain in summer, snow in winter.
- Even though the summers are very dry and the soil drains quickly, no irrigation is allowed.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso DOC “Feudo di Mezzo, Il Quadro delle Rose” 2012 ($39 at South Lyndale Liquors)
Eye: Clear, medium- intensity garnet color, translucent.
Nose: Clean, cedar chest filled with cherries and strawberries. The cedar (oak aging) is in front and could use more time to integrate, although not overdone.
Mouth: Medium body, nice richness and smooth texture. Medium+ acidity, medium+ tannins. Nice long finish of cherries and rosemary. This wine could be enjoyed without food, but loved being at the table.
Grilled Chicken, Insalata di Rinforzo and Etna Rosso
Etna Rosso wines are medium-light to medium bodied, with lively acidity and medium tannins. They are great wines at the dinner table as they can pair nicely with a wide range of foods. Grilled chicken is an excellent choice due to the smoky char present. I wanted to find a nice Sicilian side dish, and this cauliflower salad was also a delicious choice for the wine. Its full of olives and the dressing has plenty of anchovies to give the salad a very rich mouthfeel. You’ll appreciate the wine’s acidity as it cleanses your palate between bites.
You don’t need to spend $40 to try an Etna Rosso! There are several that are available for under $20! Here’s a second bottle we enjoyed with this dinner.
Valle Galfina Etna Rosso DOC 2012 ($18 at South Lyndale Liqours)
Eye: clear, medium garnet. just a touch of haze, possibly unfiltered
Nose: clean, fresh cherries w/ a touch of pine needles underfoot
Mouth: medium- body, medium acidity, medium+ tannins. Nice clean, underripe but very fresh cherries.
This more basic Etna Rosso had a lighter body and was a bit more lean and angular compared to the single vineyard Tenuta delle Terre Nere. It was very nice with food, but might be a bit spare on its’ own. Still, I’d be happy to drink this any day!
More Etna Wines for Your Consideration
- Scorched Terroir and Explosive Wines by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Irpinia is the New Tuscany by Feast on History
- Etna Rosso: Wine from the Slopes of an Active Volcano by FoodWineClick
- A Beginners Guide to Volcanic Wines by L’Occasion
- Soave Wine Erupting with Flavor by Rockin Red Blog
- Sicily’s Scorched Earth Wines at Gambino Winery by TheWining Hour
- Crazy Good Wines on Mount Etna by Undiscovered Italy
- Campania Food & Wine ABC’s: Favorites by Vineyard Adventures
- Campania’s Volcanic Wines with Fratelli Urciuolo by Vino Travels
Insalata di Rinforzo (Cauliflower with Black Olives Salad)
Adapted from a recipe in the excellent “Made in Sicily” by Giorgio Locatelli
There are lots of different versions of this recipe available online, here is another good looking one with a bit of explanation for the recipe.
Astronaut Reid Wiseman and Sicily
I still dream of being an astronaut! Reid Wiseman shared a favorite moment of his experience seeing Mt. Etna at night. You can watch it here complete with photos, and the photo below provides a brief introduction.