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2019 Terre Siciliane Nerello Mascalese “Lato Sud”

Grottafumata
Discount Eligible $45.00
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Never did we think, upon tasting Mauro Cutuli and Mariangela Prestifilippo's stellar olive oil several years ago in a wine bar on Mount Etna, that we would be dealing with a rising star of Sicily’s winemaking scene. But when Mauro reached out the following year to let us know the couple had vinified their first Etna bianco and rosso, we couldn’t refuse a tasting.
     Grottafumata is, in a sense, the antithesis of many of the changes Etna has seen in recent times. As multinational wine brands have settled looking to cash in on the Etna name, bulldozing vast swaths of land in preparation for planting and erecting super-wineries overnight, Mauro and Mariangela have gone back to the roots. They painstakingly sought out great vineyard sites planted to old vines, making deals with old contadino farmers no longer interested in working the steep land. They grow the fruit organically and vinify it naturally in rented cellar space, and the results—tiny volumes of wines infused with Etna’s exotic, smoky aura—speak for themselves.
     Grottafumata’s 2019 rosso showcases Nerello Mascalese up to one hundred years old, fermented and aged in tank, bottled unfiltered with barely any sulfur. We’ve heard of Etna reds being called “Burgundian,” and comparisons with Barolo are not unfounded, but what about Beaujolais? Featuring the silky, juicy texture and brightly perfumed red fruit of great cru Beaujolais along with the volcanic grit of old vines rooted deep in decomposed lava stone, this is an irresistibly joyful expression of Etna, unlike any other we have tasted.

Anthony Lynch


Technical Information
Wine Type: red
Vintage: 2019
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: 90% Nerello Mascalese, 10% Nerello Cappuccio
Appellation: IGT Terre Siciliane
Country: Italy
Region: Sicily
Producer: Grottafumata
Winemaker: Mauro Cutuli, Mariangela Prestifilippo
Vineyard: 1.4 ha total, 40-100 years
Soil: Volcanic
Aging: Aged 9 months in stainless steel
Farming: Organic (practicing)
Alcohol: 13%

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About The Region

Sicily

map of Sicily

Italy’s southernmost region and the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has no shortage of sunshine to grow high-quality grapes on a yearly basis. It also does not lack a history of winemaking: since the Greeks settled here almost three millennia ago, the vine has played a major role in the island’s agricultural makeup. Production of cheap bulk wine for blending dominated much of its recent history until now, as we are witnessing a quality revolution that puts forth its great diversity and quality of terroirs, indigenous grape varieties, and local production methods.

While Sicily’s historical reputation is for sweet wines—Marsala and the Muscats of Pantelleria stand out—a number of dry whites and reds are enjoying the spotlight today. The cooler, high-altitude slopes of Etna, with its ashy volcanic soils, have seen an explosion of activity from producers both local and foreign; both whites (primarily from Carricante) and reds (Nerello Mascalese) here are capable of uncommon freshness and finesse. Other noteworthy wine regions are Eloro, where Nero d’Avola gives its best; Noto, an oasis of dry and sweet Moscatos; Vittoria, with its supple, perfumed Frappatos; and Salina, where Malvasia makes thirst-quenching dry whites and deliciously succulent passiti.

Countless foreign invasions over the centuries have given Sicilian architecture and cuisine a unique exotic twist, making it a fascinating destination for gourmands as well as wine importers. With a wealth of dedicated artisans proud to show off the riches of their land, you can bet there are many exciting things still to come from this incredible island.

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Where the newsletter started

Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch

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