Here is an Italian wine you will not likely find at most local wine shops. The 2009 Vini Scilio Etna Rosso is a blend of two of Sicily’s indigenous red grapes — 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio – grown nowhere else in the world. Members of the Scilio family have been cultivating these varieties for the last five generations in the Valle Galfina on the north-eastern slopes of the Mount Etna volcano in Sicily, the large island off the toe of Italy’s boot. According to the New York Times, “Despite regular smolderings, belching of ash and flows of lava, Etna is today one of the most exciting and remarkable wine regions in Italy. That is because a legacy of eruptions has left copious deposits of rocky volcanic soils, the sort of easily draining, nutrient-poor earth that can be so conducive to good wine.”
The Vini Scilio family also produces an Etna Bianco (white) and Etna Rosato (rosé) from their volcanic terroir, and several premium wines, including its “Orpheus” from the same blend as the Etna Rosso, “Talia” – a full-bodied Nero d’Avola I.G.T., and “Sikélios,” a sweet wine made according to an old Sicilian tradition from grapes left to dry in the sun for about 20 days to concentrate their sugars. Our 2009 Vini Scilio Etna Rosso was a medium-bodied, ruby colored juicy red wine, with aromas of fresh red fruits, cherry blossoms and spice. With slightly more acidity than tannins, and flavors of cherries, raspberries and licorice, this lively red was more like a luscious French Burgundy than a typical Italian red from Sangiovese, Barbera or Nebbiolo grapes, with a lighter texture, pure fruit flavors and a refreshing finish with a subtle touch of minerality. 90 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: “Deceptively medium in body, the Rosso shows the more feminine side of these indigenous red grapes, but with plenty of grip on the finish.” It was a wonderful accompaniment to our homemade pizza with red sauce, mozzarella and black olives. Imported by North Berkeley Wine.