Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso Santo Spirito 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A hot and dry growing season put Marco de Grazia’s vineyard team to the test in 2017, but the results are simply stunning. After a torrid summer, cooling mistral winds arrived in October, drying out the vines and giving such healthy fruit that the estate was able to vinify the wine without the use of any sulfur dioxide for the first time in its history. Some of the vines that produce this wine have been rooted in Santo Spirito’s rich volcanic ash soils for a century, and in 2017 they yielded a wine that smells like a rose garden. Its intense floral and orange-zest scents give way to saturating red-cherry and raspberry flavors wrapped in lush, ripe tannins; with time in the glass, subtle spice notes emerge, the waves of flavor continuing long after the wine is gone.
Sour cherries, ripe strawberries, heather, rosemary, cedar, sweet tobacco and red licorice all spring from the glass. The full-bodied palate remains racy throughout, painting a precisely framed, confident portrait of subtle berries with loads of acidity crunch. Drink from 2021.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere is the fruit of over 30 years of passion and work in the world of fine wine.
And an extraordinary location, as well - this "island within an island" that is the Etna. A place where nature is prodigal but also severe. And here they try with all their heart to express as purely as possible the refined and multifaceted microcosm of this ancient volcanic land. With respect, care and hard farm work, always in organic balance.
The estate's philosophy is simple. Given an extreme climate, in order to obtain the best and most consistent ripening, our attention must focus on vineyard management. The finest workmanship in all aspects of viticulture is the first thing that sets them apart. And what enables them, bringing home exceptionally fine grapes, not to be invasive in their cellar work. A work best described as aimed above all at expressing the character of their varieties in their specific terroir.
A great team, a delicate hand and a heightened sensibility, as well. And their ideals, that drive them to give the best of ourselves in quest, not of perfection, but of the ideal bond between what nature gives us and that which our sensitivity, experience and imagination suggests.
All this sets them apart.
A large, geographically and climatically diverse island, just off the toe of Italy, Sicily has long been recognized for its fortified Marsala wines. But it is also a wonderful source of diverse, high quality red and white wines. Steadily increasing in popularity over the past few decades, Italy’s fourth largest wine-producing region is finally receiving the accolades it deserves and shining in today's global market.
Though most think of the climate here as simply hot and dry, variations on this sun-drenched island range from cool Mediterranean along the coastlines to more extreme in its inland zones. Of particular note are the various microclimates of Europe's largest volcano, Mount Etna, where vineyards grow on drastically steep hillsides and varying aspects to the Ionian Sea. The more noteworthy red and white Sicilian wines that come from the volcanic soils of Mount Etna include Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (reds) and Carricante (whites). All share a racy streak of minerality and, at their best, bear resemblance to their respective red and white Burgundies.
Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red variety, and is great either as single varietal bottling or in blends with other indigenous varieties or even with international ones. For example, Nero d'Avola is blended with the lighter and floral, Frappato grape, to create the elegant, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, one of the more traditional and respected Sicilian wines of the island.
Grillo and Inzolia, the grapes of Marsala, are also used to produce aromatic, crisp dry Sicilian white. 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 enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. 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.