For dramatic vineyard backdrops it's hard to beat Mount Etna. The slopes of one of the world's most active volcanoes might seem an unlikely location for the civilised activity of winemaking. But vines grown in volcanic soils seem to produce special wine. There is Santorini (of course), Tenerife, but first and foremost there is Etna, home to perhaps the most dynamic wine movement in Italy.
Calabretta are a fourth generation producer with 15 hectares of vines in the Etna's North Valley. They work organically in the vineyard, doing everything by hand. Many of their vines are very old, and some are ungrafted. They are an old-school producer, working simply in the winery and making traditional, authentic wines unique to this very special place.
Arriving next week we have a small parcel of the 2010 vintage of their Vigne Vecchie (old vine) Nerello Mascalaese. This is from vines planted between 1900 and 1920, half ungrafted. The combination of this old vine fruit and Etna's volcanic soils produces an exceptional wine which demands long ageing. It is fermented with wild yeasts, aged for a time in a large Slovenian oak barrel, and then kept in bottle until it is considered ready.
We had a few bottles here earlier in the year and it is all we hoped. Now approaching twelve years of age, it is rich and full-bodied, with a wild, spicy edge. The structure is really quite Barolo-like, but it has Etna stamped all over it. It really tells a story.