This is a weird one. Not in how the wine drinks, it's delicious! But in it's provenance is a story. The wine comes from Etna. It's made from Nerello Mascalese, the legendary predominant red grape of Etna.....However; the wine is actually made not on Etna but on the isle of Lipari. Lipari is a tiny volcanic island off of the north east coast of Sicily in the Aeolian island chain. Castellaro is in fact the only winery on Lipari and as far as I can gather from their odd website they are, in addition to being a winery, some kind of resort and a museum. The story doesn't stop there though! As wine maker Tenuta di Castellaro has brought on a god father of traditional Etna wine making: Salvo Foti. Foti has been making natural wines around the slopes of Etna for as far as I know his whole life, trying to hold onto and refine traditional knowledge of how to farm the mountain. All things aside when I see wines that he's responsible for I'm really interested.
So this is 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio in the Porcheria Contrada, which according to their website is also now called the Fuedo di Mezzo vineyard. It is certainly in the town of passopisciaro which I ran through and hung out in on my run across Sicily. The vines are very old, some over 120 years old and many are ungrafted. this is the excellent 2015 vintage. The vines are very densely planted and the soil is volcanic sand, dust, and pomice.
This is the Porcaria Contrada on Etna. Look at that volcanic rock and sand!
The entrance to the vineyard.
Aroma: Very pretty ripe red cherry. Some how there's a bit of a hot sandy salty ocean breeze to the aroma too. It's a ripe dark juicy sunny smelling wine.
Taste: There's dark ripe focused fruit; some black cherry, some raspberry. The tannins are dry and dark and...a bit tight in a lovely manly hair on the chest Sicilian kind of way. Don't get me wrong though the wines acidity is also perfect and balances that forceful extroverted fruit. For all that this isn't a big wine. It's not over the top. This is balanced and deliciously drinkable! There's a clarity and balance, a bit of precision and focus that's unusual in wines that are so rich and sunny and ripe. I think that's the elevation and the cold night time temperatures impacting the wine. Whatever it is it's special and something I run into in Etna wines to one extent or another; this ottava isola just has that sea breeze and definition of flavor more than many.
This is killer, very high quality Etna wine. Oddly it's also one of the least expensive Etna reds out there. This is about $25-$26 retail and available at Browne Trading, Meridians in Fairfield, and Maine and Loire