Tasting notes: The Barbazzale Etna Rosso is based predominantly on the indigenous Sicilian grape Nerello Mascalese, a dark-skinned variety that grows most commonly on the volcanic slopes of Mt. Etna. This highly regarded variety tends to produce wines that reflect their surroundings, resulting in firm, fresh reds with fruity, herbaceous flavors, excellent minerality and an earthy nuance and an elegance and finesse often compared to that of Pinot Noir. Nerello Cappuccio completes the Etna Rosso blend (as is typical of Etna Rosso DOC wines) lending color and perfume, as well as softening out some of Nerello Mascalese's harder edges. On the nose, the wine entices with aromas of raspberries, blackberries and wildflowers entwined with a touch of minerality. The palate is fresh and aromatic, balanced by good tannins.
Producer: In its essence, the story of the Cottanera winery is about a return to one’s roots. The story begins with Francesco Cambria, who, in 1962, seeking a retreat from his career in Messina, bought 100 hectares of vines and hazelnut groves near his birthplace in Randazzo. Francesco cultivated hazelnuts and also initially sold grapes to the local cooperative, but with the arrival of DOC status for Etna in 1968 and hazelnuts losing market share, he soon decided to focus on grape growing for bulk wine production, replanting the hazelnut groves to vines. In the late 1980s, Francesco’s son Guglielmo decided to build a winery to make his own wine, rather than selling the grapes, and he was quite successful selling it “sfuso” in demijohns to local consumers and restaurants. The initial success of these wines pushed Guglielmo to point on quality wine production, so in the mid-1990s, he renovated his father’s vineyards to increase density and lower yields, and the first wines labeled as Cottanera were born. After the death of Guglielmo, Cottanera is now guided by his brother Enzo and Gugliemo’s children Mariangela, Francesco and Emanuele.
Vineyard and Winemaking: Resting about 700 meters (2,296 feet) above sea level over lava alluvial and clay soils, the Cottanera vineyards are positioned in 5 different “contradas” (local districts) – Cottanera, Diciassettesalme, Calderara, Zottorinoto and Feudo di Mezzo. Enzo says, “Each vineyard has its own particular characteristics, based on its location, geography, exposure, soil type, variety and age. All of these factors are independent of human intervention. Each wine is born of a complex interaction of diverse elements – soil, the vineyard, climate – that is different each day. Based on these interactions, we expect what type of wine can come out of this combination – it’s all about finding the ideal balance. Then in the cellar, based on the type of product, contrada by contrada (single-vineyard), we establish and carry out the protocols for that specific wine. Obviously there is no hard-and-fast rule, and the process can be modified year by year, depending on the characteristics of the vintage. The grapes are always different. Our objective is to produce the best result with what we have ‘tra le mani’ (in our hands) and to the best of our capabilities.”
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