What I Drank Last Night
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Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso Guardiola 2007

Eat your heart out, Sienna Miller.

Societi Bistro in Orange Street, Cape Town is hipper than ever with yesterday’s Sunday Times reporting that it hosted “Hollywood starlet” Sienna Miller and her boyfriend, actor Tom Sturridge on their recent holiday in Cape Town.

It was also the venue for a Friday night dinner hosted by Marco de Grazia, the owner of Tenuta delle Terre Nere on Mount Etna, Sicily in conjunction with local wine brokering and cellaring company Wine Cellar.

De Grazia, a leading US importer of Italian wine since 1980, has been making wine from grapes grown on his Etna estate since 2002, his own cellar in operation since 2004. There are some 20ha under vineyard and the Terre Nere range consists of an entry-level rosé, an entry-level red, a white, three single-vineyard wines, namely Calderara, Feudo di Mezzo and Guardiola and finally a red from pre-phylloxera vines.

The estate has been in the conversion phase to organic viticulture since 2007 and was officially certified organic starting from the 2010 vintage. Vineyards are planted on a mixture of volcanic ash, pumice, basalt and sand. “The volcano has been around for 700 000 years and every lava flow means a new terroir,” says De Grazia.

At dinner, the Etna Bianco 2007 from the grape variety Carricante which was unusual and hard to describe but entirely captivating. It was very much about texture and structure and acidity rather than any overt fruit flavours.

This was followed by a vertical from 2005 to 2008 of the Guardiola, the highest of all the Terre Nere vineyards sitting at between 800m and 1000m above sea level. This wine is predominantly from Nerello Mascalese but also contains a tiny portion of Nerello Cappuccio, the vines “between 50 and 100 years old”.

Conventional wisdom is that these wines recall Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo although I’m not sure I agree: the wines seem more overtly fruity and also more rustic than archetypal Burgundy or Piedmont.  The 2007 was the wine of the evening:  Red and black fruit and a touch of spice on the nose and palate. Medium-bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins.  Expect to pay around R270 a bottle when the 2009 comes into stock at the Wine Cellar.

Comments

  1. Roland Peens says:

    Gunnar

    No question I would easily confuse the 2005, a weaker vintage, for a fine Barolo. It showed a firm acidity, forest floor and gamey notes and a floral finish. The, as you say ‘extracted’, tannins were integrating nicely. So perhaps whilst young you may struggle to find the link, but all the tasters on the evening referred to Piedmont and the pinot in their notes. Oak was not a problem either – we decanted the wines (en-magnum) for 6 hours. All three grape varieties show a high acidiy, purity of red fruit, dry tannins and savouriness with age.

    The 2009 vintage will land March/April. Watch out our website for the release.

  2. Impressive as they maybe, I tend to find the Terre Neres wines I have tasted more extracted and “worked” than the Nerellos from most other Etna producers, say some of the cuvees from Benanti for instance. Oak has also dominated a few of them. This might be why the “link” to Pinot Noir is somewhat difficult to see?

    My self, I’m struggling to see the resemblance between Nerello and Nebbiolo, particularly when talking flavour profile.

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