DALL'UVA TRAVEL GUIDE
Tenuta delle Terre Nere
Marco de Grazia, a long-time international market maker for Italian wineries, decided to try his hand at Italian wine making, accumulating some 25 hectares of unique vineyards sprinkled around the north side of Etna just east of Randazzo. Together with Sebastian de Grazia and enologist Calogero Statella, the team makes some pretty stunning earthy Etna reds (and a few whites of note).
Terre Nere means "black lands" for the deep, black soil from Etna's ash, and all of the wines are produced from four vineyards at relatively high altitudes (1800-2700 feet): Calderara Sottana, Santo Spirito, Guardiola and Feudo di Mezzo. Their base Etna Rosso (red wine, 95% Nerello Mascalese + 5% Nerello Cappuccio, €10, 90K bottles) is a fine entry point into northern Etna wines at a fair price. The 2011 Etna Rosso shows a richness of black cherries, herbs, wild fennel, tobacco and the dark earth minerality -- a delicious wine for not much money.
Using the base Etna Rosso as a reference point, try some of their smaller production, single vineyard reds like their Etna Rosso Santo Spirito (red wine, Nerello Mascalese + Nerello Cappuccio, €35, 5K bottles). The 2010 vintage is sensual and elegant with red fruits, sweet spices like nutmeg, leather, a touch of vanilla and the characteristic dark earthiness. If you can taste the 2008 or 2009 vintages of Santo Spirito, do it -- and bring a few bottles home with you.
Marco opens his cantina for visitors with a reservation, just send him an email at the address listed, or fill out the online form here. They only do cantina visits and tours during the week, and they're closed during harvest time (around mid-October) and the month of August. It's cash-only here, so bring your euros. Prices vary depending upon how many base wines and Cru wines you want to taste -- give yourself about €15-30 per person to play with (well worth it).
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