We drank: Etna Rosso £11 Marks and Spencer
Emma says: “I made Nerello one of our 52 grapes just to test Andy’s supremo pun skills. I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with for our newsletter.
On a more serious note, I really do feel this grape is justified to be part of our 52. I fell in love with it last year on a trip to Sicily. It forms the major part of most wines labelled “Etna Rosso” which is an amazing wine region sitting on the slopes of Mount Etna. Volcanic soils appear to be the current theme on our adventure, given last week was the Greek grape Assrytiko which is grown on the volcanic island of Santorini. In Sicily the volcano is still active, and I think wines from this region definitely have a mineral intensity which would suggest there is some sort of interaction with the soils. I always get a pleasing whiff of smoke from an Etna Rosso. Andy would probably say that is me imagining things into the wine again.
I chose a wine this week that I’m really familiar with having imported it for my work. The Nicosia winery is one of the most established in the Etna region, a lot of wines from this region are seriously expensive and they offer a really great value option. It is a relatively small region and is now becoming quite trendy on the wine scene, hence prices are going up.
I tasted the wine on potentially the hottest day of this year so far, so I gave it a bit of a chill in the fridge which seemed to really work and bring out the fruit in the wine. The first scent I got was dark and brooding with wood smoke and medicinal herbs. Nicely followed by fragrant raspberry and a hint of wet clay. All in all, there was lots going on. The palate had an equally dense flavour, it was somehow tannic and yet light in feel which I really liked. The flavours brought more bright red fruits with that smoky note pointing to the volcanic soils the grapes are growing on, but this dimension wasn’t fierce, rather gentle allowing the fruit to stand out nicely; making it an elegant yet complex glass of wine. As a Pinot lover this really appeals to me as a wine that has that lightness in touch, making it infinitely interesting to drink.
We had it with a simple pasta ravioli supper and it worked really nice, a red that isn’t too dominant in flavour for that kind of meal.”
Andy says: “This week marks the half way point on the 52 Grapes journey. It’s all downhill from now on, and things should get easier as we’ve all learnt so much, haven’t we?
So Nerello. I’m not looking forward to writing the newsletter, as I’m going to have to think of a ‘pun’ for this grape. I say ‘pun’ as I’m using the term loosely.
To the wine! Smell wise, I got old leather sofa, shoe polish, and lots of high tones. It was actually quite pleasant. Emma insists it also smells like a smokey volcano, but I must disagree. I’m wondering if she’s ever actually been near a smoking volcano. The label says it’s ‘floral’, and I couldn’t disagree more, but that’s probably because my definition of floral doesn’t match that of a wine expert’s. Colour wise, I’m plumping for Pale Garnet, based on the excellent wine chart over at Wine Folly.
I need to work on this description, but it’s what I call ‘thin’, and this one was ‘quite thin’, like when there’s not enough Ribena left to make a full strength glass. Quite a bit of a burn when swallowing, but I’ve been getting that a lot lately so perhaps I should see a doctor. This wasn’t particularly high alcohol (13%), so perhaps it was the acid causing that sensation.”
Nerello Mascalese is the main grape that features in the Etna red wines from Sicily. It is rarely featured alone so if you find a wine labelled Etna Rosso or a Sicilian Red with that grape featured on the back label that will work just as well.