Contrada C, for Chiappemacine, is 100 percent Nerello Mascalese grown in the estate’s lowest holdings, a 1.2-HA plot that lies along a shrug of Etna at 500 meters elevation. Here the lava thins out as the sea’s bones lurch beneath, holding the roots in a limestone clench. The fruit is vinified in stainless steel and aged in large, neutral oak vessels, and the tech sheet takes pains to note that bottling occurred during the waning moon of April 2016.
The body of the wine is shimmery and limpid, the color of cranberry and fresh blood. It smells like fruit and roses and lilacs and coal—but mostly not coal, mostly flowers, bloomy and high-keyed. The wine’s acidity is sharp and its tannins are voluminous, both drying and profound, but this structure doesn’t present itself in the way of, say, a structured Cabernet Sauvignon, which envelopes its frame in buoyant cherries and chocolaty black fruit. When a limpid wine like this has tannin, it’s more like tea than coffee.
Contrada C demands food, but pairing is not hard because it is both fresh and structured. Pour it with roasted poultry (it’ll act like cranberry sauce), grilled salmon (it’s almost like Pinot, but more cleansing), rare beef, pork tenderloin, firm cheeses.
2014 Passopisciaro Contrada C Terre Siciliane
15% abv | About $60 (sample) Imported by T. Edward Wines