I don’t remember the last time I tasted through so many world-class wines, both white and red, from Sicily; probably never, in fact. In a nutshell, that’s what you need to know about the state of Sicilian wine today: while the potential for memorable wines has always been there, it appears that at long last many of the island’s estates (though certainly not all) are finally starting to harness that potential. IAN D’AGATA, vinous.com
While Sicily still pumps out an endless stream of bulk wine, it is the Sicilian reds from Etna that have captured our curiosity and hearts lately.
Etna reds stand out for their tension, finesse and agile frames. Sitting on the slopes of the active volcano on black pumice-rich volcanic soils, these wines encapsulate purity and minerality.
Nerello mascalese leads the reds, with its sibling nerello cappuccio supporting. A relative of sangiovese, mascalese offers florals and earthy tones in its youth, moving into compost and leather flavours with age. Its sinewy structure bares just the right amount of flesh in its youth, fine-tuning itself later in life.
Anne-Louise Mikkelsen took over Tenuta Aglaea in 2013. Originally from Denmark, she works only with mascalese for her reds after falling in love with its ability as a terroir transmitter, a capability she attributes to only four grapes; nebbiolo, sangiovese, pinot noir and nerello mascalese.
The purity and precision of the grapes are paramount at Tenuta Aglaea. Working organically with old bush vines at heights of 600-800m, Mikkelsen understands she needs to do little in the winery. The quality of her grapes are exquisite, packed with vitality, minerally undercurrents and fine rich tannins.
With a focus on terroir, the Etna region is focused on defining their crus and bottling the plots separately. Mikkelsen now owns 1.8ha of vines in the Bocca d’Orzo (0.3ha) contrada in the zone of Randazzo, along with Passo Cannone (1ha) and Santo Spirito (0.5ha) in Passopisciaro. Working these vines is incredibly labour intensive – back-breaking at its best. Each plot is kept separate in the winery to preserve its personality.
We have two brilliant Etna reds on offer today, the Tenuta Aglaea Etna Rosso Aglaea 2019 and the Tenuta Aglaea Etna Rosso Thalia 2017. The Aglaea offers a delightful introduction into Etna reds while the Thalia imposes its presence with a little more power. With a few more years under its belt, it's subtle and nuanced with an impressive confidence.
In a sea of sameness, Etna’s red wines stand out for their originality. Their ability to transmit terroir is perceptive, resulting in upfront delicious wines with chalky textured tannins. These medium bodied beauties are versatile, their tannin and fresh acidities a lovely counter to richer dishes.
For those new to Aglaea we've put together a 6 Pack Sampler $199 at 25% off.