Passopisciaro’s bottling of Contrada S—for Sciaranuova—derives from a one-hectare parcel of Nerello Mascalese that lies at 850m elevation on Mt. Etna. The vines are rooted in a lava flow from the seventeenth century, which has since fractured and decomposed into black, porous gravel. “Sciara nuova” means “new lava flow;” everything is new once.
The fruit was vinified in steel and treated to 18 months of aging in neutral oak barriques. Only 2,000 bottles of this wine are produced annually.
The wine needs an hour of decanting, because the aromatics are, like Etna’s own nebulous wreath, slightly sulfurous. When the air clears the wine seems fresh, even cooling, offering a sense of spearmint mingling with red berries. The robe is a brilliant, clear garnet color with glints of fuchsia. On the palate the fruit is shiny and tart, skewing toward cranberry and barely ripe strawberry steeped in evergreens and resinous herbs. The tannins are assertive, amplifying the angularity of the wine’s sharp alcohol and crystal-cut acidity.
Cleansing and too strident now, it needs to age for several years to relax and integrate.
2014 Passopisciaro Contrada S Terre Siciliane
15% abv | About $75 (sample) Imported by T. Edward Wines