Mount Etna’s Red Wines

Lesson
Materials

CLASS NOTES

Mount Etna’s red wines have come a long way in a very short time. Nearly every winery on the mountain makes at least one. Red wines from vineyards on the volcano can be labelled DOC/DOP Etna Rosso OR Etna Rosso Riserva, DOC/DOP Sicilia Rosso, IGT/IGP Terre Siciliane, or they may be categorized as a Vino Rosso. In other words, wineries have a labeling choice for the red wines the make.

ETNA DOC VARIETIES

The following grapes are used to make Etna Rosso and Etna Rosso Riserva:

  • Nerello Mascalese (nayr-rehl-low • mah-ska-lay-zay)
  • Nerello Cappuccio (nayr-rehl-low • kahp-pooch-chio)
  • And non-aromatic Sicilian grape varieties.

ETNA DOC WINE: ETNA ROSSO & ETNA ROSSO RISERVA

In a lot of ways, the red wines of Mount Etna follow the recipe for Etna Rosato ‚ which mandates 80% minimum Nerello Mascalese, but the deeper, darker red wines ferment with the grape skins. Etna Rosso and Etna Rosso Riserva can be produced anywhere within the Etna DOC appellation. The color of Etna DOC red wines range from ruby to garnet, with a bouquet of red fruits and earthy spices on the nose and palate. Etna’s red wines are elegant and savory companions for an assortment of foods.

ETNA ROSSO

This is Mount Etna’s hallmark red wine. While most producers focus on the established Nerello Mascalese (80% minimum) and Nerello Cappuccio blend, non-aromatic indigenous Sicilian grape varieties can be included in small quantities. Wineries are increasingly attracted to pure expressions of Nerello Mascalese. There is no minimum aging requirement for Etna Rosso, but many winemakers shoot for nine to twelve months of cellaring before bottling a wine.

ETNA ROSSO RISERVA

Etna Rosso Riserva is a small but increasingly important category for Mount Etna. Like Etna Rosso, the established recipe mandates a minimum of 80% Nerello Mascalese in the wine. However, the wine must be aged for one year in wood and aging in the cellar is extended to four years, and the wine must be aged in wood for one year.

OTHER RED WINES

Red wines from Mount Etna are not required to follow the Etna DOC regulations. Some wineries grow Petit Verdot or Aglianico, which are not native varieties. Some wineries grow Etna’s favored grapes, in fact, but decide to label their wine using DOC Sicilia or IGT Terre Siciliane for example. There can be a number of reasons why one wine is an Etna Rosso or Etna Rosso Riserva and another wine is not. It’s important to know who the wine producer is and where their vineyards are located. They may be 100% Etna but they may not leverage the name.

IN THE VINEYARD

Wine grapes are managed by hand. Vines are trained in alberello, cordon, and guyot.

THE CELLAR

At harvest, grape clusters are removed from the vine by hand and carried to the winery in small crates. Winemakers de-stem the grapes and send the juice and skins to a fermentation tank. Following fermentation, the grapes are pressed and the new red wine ages in stainless steel, wood, and other containers. Etna Rosso is frequently bottled before the next harvest, but some producers choose to age their wines for longer. If an Etna Rosso is aged for one year in wood and released four years after the harvest it can be called Etna Rosso Riserva.

DESCRIPTION: In this lesson we discuss the red wines of Mount Etna.

MATERIALS: Video + Short Lecture

SUGGESTED TASTING: Etna Rosso

REQUIRED READING:

  • Class Notes, on Lesson Page
  • The New Wines of Mount Etna: Section – Red Wines, Pg. 49 – 57