I Custodi delle Vigne dell’Etna, Aetneus, DOC Etna Rosso, Sicily, Italy, 2008
The vineyard is at Castiglione di Sicilia, on the northern slopes of Mt Etna at 750m altitude, with sandy volcanic soils; bush trained vines of up to 150 years of age. The main variety, nerello mascalese (min 80%), is a native of the Etna region, a late ripener, which suits the high altitude with diurnal temperature range preserving acidity. It has a nominal profile of red berries, slight florality, spicy, herbaceous, damp earth, tobacco and liquorice … with fresh acidity and unobtrusive tannins.
This wine: a blend of nerello mascalese (80%) with nerello cappuccio and alicante, aged in not new barrique for minimum 24 months. Natural cork closure, 14% abv, Gauntleys, ~£28 (2016)
Consumer tasting note: a balanced wine with lots of interest from oak and bottle ageing – red and black berries, spicy and toasty, liquorice, sweet tobacco and raisin … smooth, medium-bodied, modest tannins and balancing acidity, with a long red berry-liquorice length.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, medium intensity garnet, showing tears
Nose: clean, medium (+) intensity, developing, with aromas, as they come, of slightly high-toned red cherry compote, a bit floral with notes of peony and tea rose, a touch of damp earth also leaf humus, spice – cinnamon, toasty, black cherry, bees wax, sweet tobacco, raisin, a whiff of tar-liquorice.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, medium well-integrated ripe tannins, high alcohol, a medium body, a smooth texture, medium (+) intensity, with flavours of stewed red berries, peony, toasty and spicy, black berry and black cherry, spicy dried red cherry, a savoury note and liquorice. A long length with a clean lightly grippy red fruit and liquorice finish, with a slight bitterness on the end.
Quality: a very good quality wine, with balancing acidity and modest tannins with alcohol, harmonious with flavour intensity; showing decent levels of flavour concentration and interesting complexity from time in oak and bottle, with tertiary development showing with notes of stewed fruit, tobacco and leaf humus, all following into a long length with a well-flavoured finish.
Readiness for drinking/ageing potential: can drink now, but has potential for ageing – perfect balance, a long length, lots of flavour concentration and fruit remaining, should evolve over say 3-5 years to become fully mature.