2009 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso

December 28 2010 - 10:27 AM

From a purely intellectual standpoint, I find the sheer variety of Italian wines to be more interesting than French wines.   Don’t get me wrong:  I love French wines as evidence of my previous posts on Chicago Foodies,  and if you were to ask me today what my favorite region is, I would reply with Alsace, a French region.  The quality and complexity of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne is, arguably, considered by many to be the best in the world, but the astronomical prices of many French regions scare off a good portion of would-be wine connoisseurs, whereas the large number of varieties and affordable prices make Italian wines attractive to many.    There are over 1000 varieties in Italy and there are somewhere over 400 designated wine regions if both denominazione di origine controlllata (DOC)  and  denominazione di origine controllata e garantita  (DOCG) classifications are included.

The Etna DOC is part of Sicily, one of twenty-one in Sicily alone.   Recently the Nero d’Avola grape of Sicily has become popular due to its structure, soft tannins, easy drinkability and affordability, and you will find at least one Nero d’Avola in many wine shops.

This is my first Etna wine, and it has a nose of strawberries, cherries, and rock, with a front palate taste of cherries with a mid-palate of cinnamon and, perhaps, nutmeg.   Tannins are tight, surprisingly so for an under-$20 wine that has seen some bouncy castle for sale amount of oak, especially in comparison to the other Sicilian varieties I’ve tried, but it is a 2009, and it has an extreme amount of acidity, which sliced through the decadent macaroni and cheese dish I made.  The wine was not overly ripe, a problem of warm climates, though it did taste hot for a respectably-low 13.5 percent alcohol wine.   According to the Web site, the vineyards are between 2100 and 2900 feet in altitude, something that helped keep alcohol and ripeness in check.

The varietal was Nerello Mascalese, thought to be related to the Sangiovese grape, and the acidity levels and restraint tend to either parallel or exceed what is to be expected from the traditional varieties grown in theTuscan wine region.

This wine goes for, based on my memory around $15-20 from Howard’s Wine Cellar, though I cannot remember the price.  It could lay down another five to ten years or could be decanted for best results.


–Brian Ziegler