2012 Terrazze Dell’Etna Cirneco, A$50
Crafted from nerello mascalese off 100-year-old vines, this wine showcases the ageability of the best from Etna, still retaining youthful vitality despite its age. It opens with a beautiful and hearty aromatic profile of cherry compote, cedar and smoke on top of aged spices. The palate is expressive – cherry, mineral and baked earth flavours, in harmony with firm acidity and aged tannins to provide a long and seamless finish. Delicious now, it will continue to drink well for another decade.
NV Rallo Marsala Vergine Riserva Soleras 20 Anni, A$84
With a minimum of 20 years ageing, this wine is light amber in colour, and immensely complex and subtle – showing nutty, praline, brandy butter and rancio aromas that are distinctly savoury. Despite its obvious age, the palate is surprisingly vibrant; its layers of seamless and savoury fruits punctuated by tart Marsala acidity help it to retain its brightness of fruit before finishing with excellent length.
2017 Famiglia Statella Pettinociarelle Etna Rosso, A$78
From one of Etna’s finest, this is a rustic and highly individual style that radiates with the unique characters seen in the best wines from the area. Deeply coloured with concentrated baked earth, smoke and mineral aromas over a bed of dark berry fruits. The palate is delightfully bright and fresh, and robust, with firm tannins. The impressive balance is key, helping drive the wine through to a surprisingly silky finish. A beautiful expression that will age well.
2016 Tornatore Trimarchisa Etna Rosso, A$96
Sicily’s Grand Crus or Contrada are special plots that are also the location of lava flows from specific Mount Etna eruptions. From the Trimarchisa Contrada, this shows some oak influence before powerful, brooding aromas of liqueur cherry, spice and baked earth. The muscular and long palate takes that earthiness to a new level with tarry, gravel, dried lavender and meaty flavours. A big wine and needs time to settle, but the quality is there.
2017 Giovanni Rosso Etna Rosso, A$85
One of the better known producers on Mount Etna is the Giovanni Rosso winery, which has owned vineyards in Barolo since the late 1800s before buying a property on the mountain in 2016. It is a lighter Etna style, pretty and fresh, and made to enjoy relatively young, with vibrant raspberry and ground spice fruits supported by crisp acidity and low chalky tannins, with well-judged oak sitting in the background adding depth.
2019 Tornatore Etna Bianco, A$43
Made from 100% carricante, this is a delightful illustration of why the whites of Mount Etna should not be ignored. It’s a multi-layered and subtle wine that opens with pear and nectarine, floral with a very subtle herbal element. There is also underlying power and minerality that becomes more clear on the palate: stony chalky complexity and citrus fruits supported by fresh acidity that helps it through to a lingering finish. It’s a serious food wine that will drink well over the next five years.
2020 Feudo Montoni Grillo della Timpa, A$38
An exotic example of grillo made from organic fruit grown on a steeply sloped vineyard on the Timpa Cru – with some skin contact during ferment. Its pale colour hides explosive fruits: green mango, pear, blossom and pine/lime aromas. It’s then quite ripe in the mouth, with a core of generous fruit, a pithy texture and balanced acidity providing youth and a long finish. It’s delicious now but has the stuffing to improve in bottle over the next five years.
2018 Principi di Butera Amira Nero d’Avola, A$20
Nero d’Avola comes in a range of styles, from densely coloured and flavoured wines built for the cellar to more elegant drops. This is definitely in the latter. Bright and fragrant with red cherry and cocoa supported by quite sweet oak. The palate is dry and fresh with an intense core of black berry fruits, and a dusting of violets and spice supported by fine, supple tannins. The finish is long although this delicate structure makes it best suited to early drinking.
2018 Benanti Etna Rosso, A$50
From one of Etna’s leading lights comes this delicious blend of nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccio made from vines up to 60 years old. It is bright and fragrant with shy sour cherry, floral and fennel seed aromas that lead to a dry, punchy and sinewy acid-
driven palate with good complexity. Without significant time in oak, this is an earlier drinking Etna style.
2019 Le Casematte Peloro Bianco, A$33
A modern Sicilian white that brings together local varieties grillo and carricante. There is a delightful mix of subtle aromas. Florals, such as acacia, honeysuckle and chamomile, set the scene underlined by grapefruity citrus elements. It then builds more richness on a dry and full-flavoured, citrus-scented palate, where tangy acidity provides vitality while a pithy texture adds bite. It’s an early drinking style but a good one.
2019 Tenuta Regaleali Grillo, A$30
Grillo was a key component in Marsala, but with the drop in popularity for fortified wines, it has more recently shown good potential to craft attractive dry white wines. This is an elegant and restrained version showing citrus and floral fruits with stony minerality. The palate is mid-weight, with juicy, refreshing acidity on display and fruit again subtle but with fine complexity throughout. A lingering finish also makes this wine an attractive alternative to Italian pinot grigio or Soave.
2019 Borgo SanLeo Nero d’Avola, A$12
The Borgo SanLeo label offers good value entry-level Italian wines with this nero d’Avola one of the picks. This has all that you need for a mid-week pasta with its plush ripe fruits. Simple dark cherry and mulberry are lifted by baked earth and spicy complexity. There is also good palate weight and more dark fruits supported by soft tannins and an acid kick. It’s a good introduction to what nero d’Avola is all about.