2014 Passopisciaro Contrada P Terre Siciliane

Complicated and powerful Nerello from Etna

2014 Passopisciaro Contrada P Terre Siciliane

The Nerello Mascalese from Contrada P—for Porcaria—is grown in the estate’s 1.5-hectare vineyard that lies at 650 meters of elevation on Mount Etna’s northern shoulder.

This is the winery’s most bewitching single-vineyard Nerello, the most mercurial. It’s flowery-herbal, suggesting hibiscus, anise, lavender, and crushed juniper. It’s animal, with a sweaty, brooding, feral aspect tinged with cured meat. It’s earthy, with leathery tannins and a finish like powdered graphite. It’s ripe, truly—15.5% alcohol by volume—but the wine doesn’t read as boozy or hot. It was raised in large wooden vats and cement tanks, so there is no oak to weigh it down. It could easily cellar for many years; five at least, but even ten or twenty.

When I sip this wine and squint my eyes I conjure a dusty hillside dense-planted with vines, a view of mountain up and sea below, an upslope wind. This is a wild-seeming place patchworked with scraggly trees and barren lava fields and vibrating with the hum of midday insects. The terraces are black pomace that a farmer, long ago, built with bleeding knuckles. The sky above is azure and dusk comes late, but there is sheep’s milk cheese and bread to hold me until dinner.

I’ve visited such places, and this wine tastes faithfully like them.

 

2014 Passopisciaro Contrada P Terre Siciliane

15.5% abv | about $80 (sample) Imported by T. Edward Wines

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