Italian Indigenous Varieties: Nerello Mascalese

I’ve been dragging my feet to write about Nerello Mascalese in my Italian Indigenous variety series. I don’t know why but I think it’s because it’s such a “fashionable” grape that I am shying away from it. Of course, that’s ridiculous. It’s fashionable because it’s delicious and therefore deserves attention. Years ago no one had heard of Etna or Nerello but that is a thing of the past. Many compare Nerello to Pinot Noir. I have found similarities in a number of wines from Etna that I have tried but not only to Pinot Noir. It hails from the province of Catania where it has been grown for more than 150 years. It is a variety that has a lot of different biotypes. It is hard to grown and often has berries that don’t all mature evenly. It is usually seen as part of a blend, with red or white grapes and is part of different D.O.C. wines. – Conte di Sclafani, Etna, Faro, Marsala, Sambuca di Sicilia, Lamezia, and S. Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto.

I’ve tried a variety of wines from the Etna and from the Faro DOCs. I find the wines at times ethereal and at others just a very well balance red wine with balance. I’ve visited Etna and the volcanic terroir is magnificent.  One that I favor is from Tasca d’Almerita, an amazing historic winery in Sicily with a number of incredible properties..

Every year at Vinitaly, I do a tasting of the wines from Tasca. I wrote this post about the winery some years back. I’m looking forward to my yearly trip and to see how their Tascante has evolved. They are relatively new to Etna and not the first name that comes to mind but I think it’s a wine to watch.

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