Mission Codename Lava's in the air
ETNA is HAPPENING! This was so delicious that we had to beg for more.
Etna Rosso DOC may as well be the HOTTEST appellation in Italy. Literally so, when RED HOT LAVA is flowing down this highly active volcano! Do you know who appears most in the nightmares of Sangiovese and Nebbiolo grapes? It’s Nerello. Meet Nerello Mascalese, the wonder-grape of Sicily that is now threatening these two princes who have ruled the Kingdom of Enotria (an ancient name for Italy that means the land of wines) for centuries. Akin to the constantly spewing crater of Etna that wipes out a vineyard or two downhill, Nerello is blowing minds giving many a Barolo or Brunello a run for the money.
Pale garnet turning crimson at times with an alluring deep orange rim, reminiscent of a quiet crater awaiting the next eruption. Head-spinning perfume, with floral red berries drenched in oak spices, the smell just fills the air, like the smoke rising from a cinder cone. Texturally unique, savory and dry yet with a confectionary impression, dry while being sweetly fruited. Elegant and fresh raspberries and citrus linger through silky tannins on the long, expressive finish with refined, authoritative tannins. Pair with fresh, handmade pasta with a rich Ragù, even better with a local classic like your favorite pasta shape prepared ‘alla Norma’ as a Sicilian would.
It’s quite striking to see some of Italy’s most refined reds emerging from Sicily, with a long-standing rep for big reds of mediocre quality. Single vineyard, high elevation, volcanically grown Etna reds, if you have not yet discovered them, are one of the most giving contributions of Italy to the world of wine. The same stark contrast of wines of love blooming amidst lava-swept vineyards can be found in this deal, Operatives, one of the finest red wines Italy can offer under $20 thanks to a generous 50% discount on this long sold-out vintage. Secure some of this highly limited silky goodness, we promise you will LAVA it.
Here’s what the wine press has to say:
92 Points – Vinous - “The Cambria family has been quite busy at their Cottanera winery of late. In February 2019, the estate bought a small vineyard planted to 50-year-old Nerello Mascalese vines in the high-quality Diciasettesalme Contrada. Located at about 700 meters above sea level and close to the Alcantara River, its soil differs slightly from that of other Contrade to a higher (though still small) percentage of clay amid all the lava, and so the wine made here should have a slightly different aroma and taste profile than the other estate wines. Deep red. Captivating aromas of black cherry, red berries, fresh herbs and flowers. Plush and impressively concentrated; harmonious acidity gives good tension and definition to the midpalate. Finishes graceful and long with silky tannins. Lovely Etna Rosso.”
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate - “The Cambria family has embarked on an ambitious renewal project that started in 2008. International varieties (like Merlot) have been replaced with indigenous grapes. Today, 42 of Cottanera’s 60 hectares of vines are planted exclusively to native Etna grapes. This important estate now farms five distinct contrade including Contrada Cottanera, Zottorinoto, Feudo di Mezzo, Calderara and Diciassettesalme. This access to important vineyard crus has allowed Cottanera to add four new wines to their exciting portfolio since 2015. These are an Etna Rosato, an Etna Bianco Contrada Calderara, an Etna Rosso Riserva Contrada Zottorinoto and an Etna Rosso Contrada Diciassettesalme. Keep yours eyes on Cottanera because this is indeed an exciting winery to watch. The Etna Rosso Diciassettesalme is an easy-drinking red from Etna that focuses on primary fruit, accessibility and general freshness. It makes a natural pairing partner to foods with a fatty component, such as pizza topped with mozzarella or pasta piled high with pecorino. This wine has the natural freshness and acidity to cut through those ingredients, and it will leave the palate refreshed.”
Amy Wislocki – Decanter - “What makes the wines of Etna so special? A combination of three factors … the fact that you have an Alpine climate in a Mediterranean land, leading to huge day-night temperature drops that give great aromatics to the wines, the volcanic soils, featuring strata of different geologic origins and including no fewer than 46 different lava types, and the predominance of ungrafted, pre-phylloxera vines. Etna’s reds are often compared to Burgundy, and share the same graceful capacity for aging… Along with Piedmont, Etna is the only major vineyard area in Italy strongly associated with particular crus (again, like Burgundy). In Etna these zones are known as ‘contrade’, and growers have come to recognise their different characteristics. In general the lunar landscape produces reds that typically display some or all of the following: an intense violet fragrance, sour red cherry or berry, sweet spice, marzipan, herbal notes, and a smoky, flinty, mineral undercurrent. Nerello Mascalese makes great food wines, producing wines with intrinsic freshness, moderate alcohol and juicy sweetness of flavour but a dry finish. These are wines to make you salivate.”
What the Winery Says
2015 Contrada Diciassettesalme Etna Rosso DOC
- Francesco Cambria
- 100% Nerello Mascalese
- Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily
- Contrada Diciasettesalme
- Total Acidity
- Volcanic ash, alluvial lava
- 750 meters
- Average vine age
- 12 years
- 8 months
- Bottle grande (large, neutral oak)