For years, Nero d’Avola was the “it” wine of Sicily. So much of the dark, full-bodied wine was exported to the United States that it became almost synonymous with Sicilian vino. Many of them were inexpensive and, frankly, forgettable.
A more interesting Sicilian red, Etna Rosso, is now getting a good deal of attention, and this Murgo Etna Rosso 2015 shows just why there is so much excitement.
Etna Rosso is the name, or appellation, of the wine and, as it suggests, it is red wine from the mineral-rich area around Mount Etna. Murgo’s Etna Rosso is made entirely from Nerello Mascalese, the most important grape in the Etna region, whereas some Etna Rossos are blended with the darker Nerello Capuccio variety.
When you pour this wine, you’ll notice the lightness of its color (medium ruby) and its transparency, suggesting colors found in the Nebbiolos of Barolo and Barbaresco, or in some Pinot Noirs from Burgundy.
In fact, Etna Rosso is often compared with those more famous — and far more expensive — wines, not only in color but in taste, particularly its earthiness and minerality, two characteristics of Murgo’s Etna Rosso. Fresh acidity is another.
The wine is both light and bold, a seeming contradiction that makes it so interesting — and irresistible. The earth and minerals are woven with notes of fresh and dried red fruit, flowers, and a touch of black licorice.
Easy food pairings include grilled chicken, salmon, and vegetables, and pasta with chicken sausage and broccoli rabe. A slight chill will make it all the more refreshing in the summer months. At about $15 or so, this is also one of the best values I’ve come across from anywhere in Italy.
One note: Although I enjoyed the 2015, I noticed that other vintages of this wine are also being sold, and I wouldn’t hesitate to try them.