Vineyard: Comes from a seven hectare vineyard on the slopes of Mount Etna. Average age of the vineyards is between 60-80 years with some plants over 100 years old, some ungrafted -- on original root stock. A blend of nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccio.
Orientation: 750 m in elevation.
Soil: Black volcanic, stony soil.
Viticulture: Manually harvested in mid-October. Many vines on original un-grafted rootstock.
Vinification: Soft pressing after destemming. Fermented in stainless steel for 5-7 days with pumping over -- then in wood. Full malolactic fermentation in the first year.
Aging: Aged in large Slavonian oak casks (50-70HL) for 36-42 months.
Notes: Massimiliano Calabretta holds more in common with some of the stalwarts of traditional Barolo production than he does with most of his fellow Etna producers. He ages his wine in large neutral oak botti and holds his wine back for years in bottle before release. There are no recipes but some vintages age for as long as 12 (between cask and bottle) years in the cellar before release.
With the 2004 vintage, Massimiliano decided to begin bottling what had formerly been his Etna Rosso as Nerello Mascalese Vigne Vecchie. In the past the DOCG board would sometimes reject one or two of his botti saying they were not "typical Etna Rosso" -- in those cases he was forced to declassify that wine even though he felt it was up to his own standards. Rather than take a chance to continue be forced to declassify wine, he decided to bottle everything as IGT so that he could make his own decisions accordingly to his own taste - and not be forced to change his style.
Deep red-ruby. Underbrush, tar and licorice dominate the red fruit aromas and flavors. A hint of shoepolish emerges on the long tactile and slightly warm finish. This big wine has plenty of personality but I would have liked a little more grace. (15% alcohol)