Fattorie Romeo del Castello Allegracore Etna Rosso 2009

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Etna is a hobby of mine. An indigenous grape (Nerello Mascalese) with the complexity and character of a level equivalent to the best Pinot Noir along with ancient (sometimes pre-phylloxera) vines, high elevation, volcanic soils and living lava flows – what’s not to like. The DOC’s increasing fame both owes a debt to and has fostered outside influence, particularly from Tuscany with producers like Passopisciaro.

There is, however, an increasing tendency of some producers towards more accessible, oakier wines designed to tame the fierce, almost unpleasant textures and flavours of Nerello Mascalese. On the other hand, the untamed examples from, for example Frank Cornelissen, can be quite a challenge to understand and enjoy. The wines also tend to be quite expensive. Is there a happy medium?

Romeo del Castello bucks many trends in Etna. This third generation winery, that is now run by a mother and daughter team (Chiara Vigo and her mother Rosanna Romeo), is making incredibly pure, elegant Mascalese unlike any other I’ve tasted from extremely old vine material of up to 100 years old. It is not the most sophisticated of all the wines from Etna, but it is the most simultaneously authentic and drinkable – and at a price well below its competition.

Importers take note.

Excellent and Highly Recommended Value
$25 at Garagiste

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