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Delhi Wine Club
Speedtasting Wines from Eastern Sicily- Part B

Posted: Monday, 24 October 2011 11:53

Speedtasting Wines from Eastern Sicily- Part B

Oct 24: The tranquil Etna Golf Resort near Catania at the base of Etna mountain came to life earlier this month with about 20 producers of the Eastern half of Sicily moving from table to table in a rhythm, meeting buyers and journalists from eight target markets and tasting their wines within a specified time of 25 minutes. After covering 9 wineries in the previous issue Subhash Arora writes about the rest of the wineries whose wines he tasted at the Speedtasting.

This is a relatively new and small winery in Linguaglossa, a popular Etna wine area in the province of Catania. However, they produce only 3500 Etna doc white, which was barely drinkable (81) and only 1500 Etna doc red. They need to improve the quantity and quality to look for exports.

La Gelsomina

Another small winery in the Catania province, making small quantities. Rosso da Pesce 2010 with 12.5% alc had only 3500 bottles made. Also tasted was Rosso della Contea13% igt with 90% Nerello Mascalese and 10% Nerello Cappuccio. Pinot Nero goes well in this area apparently but did not have very clean aromas for me. There was too much wood in the aromas and the flavour (79). It won’t find a market in India.


This bio-dynamic winery is located in a small town-Santa Lucia del Mela in the province of Messina on the north eastern tip of Sicily known for doc Mamertino wines. The white Mamertino doc is a dark golden wine with 60% Catarratto, 20% Inzolia and 20% Grillo (minimum required by law is 60/10/10). Catarratto is for structure, Grillo is for perfume while Inzolia (Insolia) is for flavour which is typical for this area and may not be acceptable to the Indian palate in the first instance. The Mamertino Bianco Riserva 2008 was still young with a lot of wood in the aromas and flavours-still quite closed but will mature nicely (91). 

The Mamertino Nero d’Avola 2007 had great complex bouquet with delicious flavour of cherries and very light touch of oak, quite well balanced and delicious wine (92) though priced higher as a premium wine. Mamertino doc Nero Riserva had more fruit concentration (93) but priced almost as expensive as a low-end Barolo, it may not find any takers or volumes. Mamertino doc 2008 has 10% Nocera, a common acidic grape in this area used to make the wine more rounded has not done much of it, I feel (90), though overall it is delicious and juicy wine with long end.

Gambino Vini

Contact: Francesco Raciti
Another Linguaglossa based winery in the Mount Etna area making some excellent value for money good quality wines. Tifeo 2010 (Dragon on the Etna mountains in Greek mythology) 2010 is a blend of Carricante 60% and Catarratto 40%  which is delicious and full on the palate, mineral, fresh with good acidity and a good value (91) if you realise that Etna white wines are unique and cost a little more than the other Sicilian wines. Cantari Bianco is a Blanco di Nero- made from the red  Nerello Mascalese). The wine with a personality (94) is another nugget. Cantari red 2009 made from 100% Nero d’Avola has high alcohol (14%) 2009, very clean wine and is decently priced too. Etna doc Red, with the usual  80% Nerello 20% Cappuccio (88) may not cut ice in the Indian market.



Cantine Valenti

Based in Castiglione di Sicila area of Catania province, it is located on the slopes of Etna in the northern portion of the inverted C that is the shape of Etna, just North of Catania. Winery is located on one of the craters of Guardiola. I was told that there are only 3 such craters in the world- in Burgundy, Langhe and this region.

Malavoglia was one of the 3 wines tasted. Based on Grecanico, a grape of south Sicily, the 13.5% alcohol wine is quite mineral, elegant with good structure and balance (89), priced right. Poesia Rosato, is a Rosé with 100% Nerello that has seen only 6 hours on the skins, giving beautiful, light coloured, very dry wine with less than 1% residual sugar. (91).  Puritani Nerello- Mascalese was a very nice, fruity and  clean wine with mineral notes  (89) but the typical flavoured wine that wont go well with the Indian palate.




Contact: Vincenzo Cambria
This winery in Catania province was founded in early 90s  by the brothers Enzo and Guglielmo Cambria with the first bottling in 1999.. It owns 55 hA of vineyards on the northern slopes of Etna, at a height of 700 m. It produces 25,000 cases of wine of which 25% are exported to Australia, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, UK and Hong Kong. The family takes credit in giving life to ‘Vulca-Enologia’- the enology of the volcano and produce elegant wines. Of the local sales, 65% are sold to mainland.

Barbazzale igt 2010 white  is an interesting blend of Insolia 60% and Viognier in SS tanks. The straw yellow wine with green shades has very mineral flavour, spicy, slightly but a slightly bitter end typical of Viognier (86). Good value for money and that too a unique wine. Etna Bianco 2010  is 65% Carricante and 35% Catarratto. Very aromatic, mineral, strong spicy with a fairly  long end. (89) Slightly expensive but nice wine. Barbazzale Red Etna doc 2010 has a blend of Mascalese and Cappuccio  (85/15 with a bitter end (82). Price is reasonable, but might be difficult to catch on because of its typical flavour. Fatagione IGT 2008 is  85% Mascalese, 15% Merlot/ Syrah with 12 months in the barrel and 12 months in the bottle has a rather  bitter end and strong tannins. It felt over-extracted, in fact. (86)


Tenuta Chiuse del Signore

Contact: De Luca Sergio
Founded in 2000 in Linguaglossa this is a charming winery located on a hill top at an altitude of 550 m. Owned by the Gais Hotel Group in Taormina, it has 40 hAs of vineyard but the production is rather small at only 2500 cases.
What completely threw me off was the Prosecco which is labelled as DOC and is made by buying grapes from the Prosecco growing region in Veneto and fermented in the winery in Linguaglossa,  perhaps over 1000 kms away. In any case it is the first year of production; I was told and will need some more experience (83). I was foxed by the DOC laws which normally allow the Charmat method processed Spumante to be produced in the designated areas in Veneto-Friuli- Giulia.

Rasule Alte 2010 IGT  sauvignon-Inzolia is a decent value for money wine; quite fruity with Sauvignon Blanc aromas, quite acidic and crisp, fairly long good aperitif  wine. (84). Rasule Alte- 2007 igt is a blend of Mascalese 70% and Merlot 30 % . It has a bitter end, burning my palate (82) although the price is quite reasonable. Other wines tasted were NerEtna  DOP , Pinot Noir which was quite delicious (84) but extremely expensive. Serrantico is a blend of only international grapes- Merlot (70%) and Syrah (30%).

Tenuta de Fessina

Contact: Federico Curtaz
Founded only in 2007, this is one of the rising stars of Sicily and though the first vintage was released in 2009 it is already creating a lot of waves with the production of only 8,000 cases. Every wine tasted was clean and had an interesting Etna personality and when I told Federico to convey my compliments to the winemaker, he said he was the winemaker who was partnering with the Tuscan based wine producer Silvia Maestrelli. One would hear a lot more about this winery and the winemaker from Piemonte, who also consults with a few other wineries.

Chardonnay  Nakone 2010  is made from grapes from Erice in Trapani from vineyard at  600 meters. Very nice, clean, fruity and long wine with citrus, apple flavours  with subtle aromas. Etna Rosso is made from the field blend (known as Uvaggio) of Nerello Mascalese and Cappuccio (80/20) clean, fresh, fruity, complex wine with nice end too. Medium end with ripe and soft tannins (89)-expensive. Il Musmeci 2008 is made from the old vines 70-80- years old and is named after the previous owner, Aged for 3 years, this complex wine is very concentrated, harmonic (92) and naturally priced much higher. Nerello Cappuccio 100% is a juicy, vibrant wine with softer tannins, not harsh. Interesting wine, made from grapes at higher altitude of 1000m ( 89). For the unique quality it may seem higher priced but excellent for on-trade for connoisseurs who want something unique-Etna offers that feature. Ero 2009 is a Nero d’Avola grown on a 2 hA of vineyard, near Noto. Quite delicious, full, of berries in the mouth and very juicy wine.  Carricante is also 1000 m high vineyard and is picked up very late- end of October (harvested after completing all other grapes. Very crisp, nice acidity and vivacious.


Contact: Di Miceli Bernardo
Founded in 1975, it is a relatively large winery with 350 hA of vineyards spread all over Sicily out of which 50-60 hA are in Etna. A million bottles (about 85,000 cases) are produced annually. Etna White is a 50-50 blend of the typical grapes of the region- Catarratto and Carricante. Very crisp and fresh wine (90) with a good price. Etna red on the other hand is not a great wine from Indian palate point of view (86) though the price is right. Same goes for Etna Rosso Reserve 2001- with 5 years in barrel and 5 years in bottle DOP 2001 (89) this wine is a great value for money wine that is released after 10 years of harvest! It will mature for another 10 years.

This completes the tasting with wineries on the Eastern half of Sicily. The earlier article on the producers whose wines were tasted may be viewed at:

Please contact them directly or visit their websites for any queries-for India or other countries.
Subhash Arora


Part A


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