One of the charms of our time on Etna this April was that each of our winery visits was very different, ranging from the super-clean, laboratory-like cantina at Cornelissen, to the funky but very cool operation at Calabretta. They’ve very cleverly figured-out how to make due in tight quarters – the place is full to bursting with wines awaiting release after 10-12 years of aging. Calabretta is the only Etna producer to age this long (their current release is the 2002), which offer us a unique view on the aging capacity of Nerello Mascalese (short answer: it can age very well!).
|The tall tank in the background is probably 20-30 feet high!|
At Calabretta all the farming is organic. The wines are fermented in steel (with indigenous yeasts) and then aged in very large older wood botte for up to several years depending on the vintage. They are then transferred to enormous resin tanks before bottling. The resulting wine retains the freshness and vibrancy of Nerello Mascalese, with very attractive older-wine aromas – some more forest-y tones added to intense Etna minerality. Coming from 60-80 year-old vines in the sweet spot on the north side of Etna, from ground rich in minerals from decayed volcanic lava and ash (where many of the best producers have their vineyards), the wines have unmistakable Etna terroir. They are uncompromisingly old-school, and the Rosso is certainly one of the great wines of Etna.