Every year we taste through a number of rosés with a view to sending you an offer representing the best examples. This year we knew where we wanted to focus our attentions for one of those wines, namely the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. Why? Simply put, we have a growing interest in a grape variety called Nerello Mascalese that is grown there, and so we are pleased to offer the 2016 Etna Rosato from Graci’s own estate here for £90 per 6 bottle case in bond.
Nerello has the capacity to hold onto freshness and verve when planted at altitude; in this way it is able to retain its poise even in Sicily’s extreme summer temperatures. It is ideally suited to the volcanic slopes of Etna…it is here that we have witnessed a significant upsurge in popularity. Just last year, we heard that Alberto Graci had joined forces with Angelo Gaja of Piemonte fame, to buy significant parcels of vineyard in Sicily for a new venture. Previously the Franchetti family of Tuscany’s Tenuta di Trinoro acquired the estate of Passopisciaro in 2000. And I think there will be more in time. Nerello Mascalese has been compared to Sangiovese, the dominant Tuscan variety, and also to Pinot Noir; certainly this variety shares some of the tautness of the former and red fruit characters of the latter. Just as Pinot Noir is capable of making intriguing, lightly-coloured rosé with subtle hints of berry fruit, so is Nerello Mascalese.
By way of background, Alberto Graci has been making wines from fruit grown on the vineyards of Mount Etna since 2004. The vines on his own estate average 50 years of age, which serves to highlight part of the attraction of investing in Etna’s vineyards – there are old-vine parcels still at affordable levels that can be purchased. Graci’s vines stand at 1000 metres above sea level on dark, volcanic soils and produce naturally low yields.
The 2016 rosé is a fascinating wine; you might call it onion-skin in colour, it certainly is not an obvious pink. It is made by the process of saignée, allowing partial skin contact where the pigment held in the skins gently bleeds into the juice. Fresh, attractive yet subtle aromas suggest red summer fruits, hints of wild herbs as well as a slightly floral lift. What I am impressed by most of all is the texture and the mouth-watering raciness it reveals on the palate; bright zingy notes of grapefruit and juicy red berry are gently expressed. This is a racy, clean-cut rosé, but as Antonio Galloni comments in the note I include below, there is a surprising concentration behind the verve. A really interesting rosé proving that the category is more diverse than you might imagine. This wine will lend itself to light dishes, or courses to which you might invariably match a racy white…
2016 Etna Rosato, Graci
£90 per 6 bottle case in bond
92 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
Very pale pink, almost straw yellow. Elegant aromas and flavors of orange flowers, red berries, rosehip and minerals. Bright juicy and clean, but with real texture and sneaky concentration to the stony red berry and herbal flavors. Outstanding length and zingy but harmonious acidity on the bright, crisp, multilayered finish. Bravo! Mainly Nerello Mascalese. Drink now to 2019.
This vintage is already shipped and will be available for delivery from the 11th June.
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