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Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2013
At Terre Nere vinification is simple, classic, and Burgundian in technique. Alcoholic fermentation and maceration on the skins last from 10 to 15 days; malolactic fermentation and maturation are carried out in oak (25% new). After 18 months the wine is bottled without filtering.
The Terre Nere vineyards are located at extremely high altitudes, ranging from 2100-2900 feet above sea level. The weather at such high altitudes--hot direct sunlight but cool shade and cold nights--makes the wines of Etna extraordinarily fine and elegant, devoid of the heat and overripe sensations that overwhelmingly define "Southern" wines. (As a rule of thumb, the ripening of red grapes above 3200 feet is extremely uncertain; these are the highest altitude red grapes in the old world!) A portion of Terre Nere's vines are pre-phylloxera; the rest are about 40-50 years old. The trellessing is "en goblet" or self standing. The grapes are harvested at the end of October (making it the second to last harvest in all of Italy, after Aglianico), which is a risky in and of itself: the weather always breaks before the harvest, endangering the grapes at their most delicate stage.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Above all else, the extraordinary elevation yields dramatic temperature variations between night and day, making the wines of Etna fine and elegant, devoid of the heat and overripe flavors that usually define southern wines. In fact, most people who have tasted these wines, particularly the 2004s, say they find them most akin to Burgundies or Barolos.
Production is simple, classic, and Burgundian in style: the grapes are grown organically, using only bordelaise mixture and organic fertilization - mostly dung. Vinification follows the same lead: maceration-fermentation lasts 10-15 days, followed by malolactic fermentation and aging in oak - 25% new - and bottling around 18 months later.
The 2004 vintage marks the real birth of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, because for the first time the estate is self sufficient, and the grapes produced were vinified at the estate’s new cellars. The wines are astounding. The '02 and '03s have been likened to Pinot and Nebbiolo, as being Burgundian or Langhe-esque. Now there's no doubt about it. The old vines cuvees are difficult to distinguish from very fine Burgundy! With their subtlety and generosity, the wines manage to be rich and precise at the same time.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere will be Certified Organic starting with the 2008 vintage.
A large, geographically and climatically diverse island off the toe of Italy, Sicily has long been recognized for its fortified Marsala wines. It is also home to red and white table wines that have been steadily increasing in quality and popularity over the past few decades, allowing Italy’s fourth largest wine-producing region to shed its former image as merely a supplier of bulk wine. Certainly, plenty of bulk wine is still made here, but those who look beyond that will find plenty of high-quality wines for every-day drinking as well as bottles from boutique producers who espouse thoughtful vineyard practices (the organic wine movement thrives here). Though most think of the climate here as simply hot and dry, there is some variation on the sun-drenched island, particularly at high elevation on the slopes of Mount Etna.
Although Sicily’s comeback began with clever labels and easily recognizable international varieties, its charm lies in its indigenous grapes. Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red variety, responsible for full-bodied, berry fruited wines throughout the island. In Cerasuolo di Vittoria, it is blended with the lighter, more floral Frappato to create an elegantly balanced wine. On the volcanic soils of Mount Etna, many noteworthy wines are being produced in every color—whites from Cataratto and Carricante, and rosés from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. All of these wines share a racy streak of minerality and at their best can bear more than a slight resemblance to their respective Burgundies. Grillo and Inzolia, the grapes of Marsala, are used to produce generally simple, crisp dry whites. Pantelleria, a subtropical island belonging to the province of Sicily, specializes in Moscato di Pantelleria, made from the variety locally known as Zibibbo.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.