I have held for some time now that Sicily is Italy’s most exciting wine region. I am not saying it is the best mind you, just the most exciting. It’s the wild west of Italian wine with the gamut ranging from pioneers like COS to maverick’s like Frank Cornelissen to up and comers like Arianna Occhipinti. And there are also the wines coming from Etna. Calabretta has long been a favorite, producing wines of resounding character and finesse. I throw Romeo del Castello right in there too along with Calabretta. Tasting the predominantly Nerello Mascalese “Allegracore” at a recent Dressner event reminded me of how sublime the wines from Etna can be. And opening the 2009 Allegracore at home hot on the heals of a bottle of Burgundy, I could not help but see a connection. I might place the Romeo del Castello Allegracore in some mythical place between an outstanding village level red Burgundy and a great Cru Beaujolais. The estates unique location with Mount Etna looming in the background and a thousand year old olive tree only further reinforce how mystical a place Sicily can be. As recently as 1981, in fact, a lava flow from Mount Etna covered a significant portion of the estate, thank god the 70-100 year old vines were spared. The wines are produced without artifice and they are a pleasure to drink young, but there is enough structure meets elegance to suggest that they should age sublimely as well.
Romeo del Castello 2009 Etan Rosso “Allegracore” ~$21.99
Cherries, ruby red fruits, lavender, bark. Very balanced. Drink now or hold for 10-15. Etna is Burgundy in Sicily. Lovely stuff. This Etna gem is a steal at $21.99. Purchased at Chambers Street Wines. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED