18 Mar

Terrazze dell’Etna | Making Wine in the Shadow of a Volcano

Humming with the ghosts of the multitudes who’ve sought to rule it over the centuries, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Though some cynics might point out its cartographic resemblance to a target for the Latin boot, Sicily actually boasts the greatest number of wineries of any Italian region. Top Dog on the island is the fortified DOC wine, Marsala; so brilliant for cooking, it adds a distinct character to stews, its top-end solera releases superb when served with a hard cheese like Pecorino. While there are some impressive DOC wines here, there is also great value being offered by top quality producers making very good IGT wines from native varieties.

Nestled into the slopes of Mt Etna, Terrazze dell’Etna has a distinctive mineral aspect to its wines. The indigenous red varieties include Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappucino, their wines generally light in colour with vibrant acidity. Wines made from these varieties, either individually or blended, are often referred to as Italy’s answer to burgundy, owing to the colour, texture and acidity in the wines, although their acidity is far higher than that of their Burgundian counterparts.

The terraces were established in the 1800s, with current owner, Nino Bevilacqua, purchasing the property in 2006 and transforming it into one of the area’s most sought- after producers. Everything is done by hand, with no irrigation other than what drains down off the mountain itself. Thanks to the harsh volcanic ground, the viticulturalist needs to cut the roots of the sometimes century-old vines to stop them growing side-ways. Wines from volcanic areas tend to be grouped with orange wines in wine bars or well-curated cellars. While the reds have garnered the attention to date, historically, Terrazze dell’Etna was known for its sparkling wines. These are made from a blend of international varieties and will leave you wondering why you’ve not tried them before.