My love of Sicilian wines is well documented, and I readily admit to some serious bias for Sicilian wines as I have family roots back to the island, namely to the area of Messina.  And wine has been in our family history, as it has in the family history of many Italian American’s, with my great grand father making wine in the garage.  I was never able to try it but my father noted it was quite tannic and strong.

At any rate, one of the most traditionally mined producers in all of Sicily and certainly on Etna is Calabretta.  When one hears stories being tossed around like 70-80 year old vines, aging in large old oak barrels or botti, two months extended macerations, wines not being released until ten years, etc., then one becomes very intrigued very quickly.  And when Calabretta tops the list of Etna wines by Eric Asimov at the New York Times, then that is kind of the final seal of approval from who is, in my opinion, the most important wine critic writing today.

All these things certainly draw the inevitable comparisons to traditionally made Barolo’s, Brunello’s, or Rioja’s, but the red wines of Calabretta remind me of Primitivo Quiles.  Namely their Raspay bottling which would be very interesting to drink side by with Calabretta.  I am not going to go into a modern versus traditional spiel here again, but traditionally made wines seem to keep inspiring and improving, and both Primitivo Quiles Raspay and Calabretta Etna Rosso are both insane values, both coming in and under $30?

Calabretta 2000 Etna Rosso ~$25.99

There is a brambly liquor quality to the Calabretta Etna Rosso 2000.  There is also fennel and sage brush and old barrel.  There is a delicate power to the Calabretta.  While inevitable comparisons will be made to Barolo, it reminds me a lot of Primitivo Quiles Raspay.  A traditional gem; drink it now or keep it for ten more years.  It’s fairly well available in the NYC area, find it on Wine Searcher.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – EXCELLENT VALUE