A surprising wine find from Sicily, Nerello Mascalese ("Neh-rello Mas-kuh-lay-zay") grows mainly on Mount Etna and is known for its elegant, age-worthy reds.
Nerello Mascalese Tasting Notes
Young wines are translucent ruby and smell somewhat "turned in" with subtle fruit notes of sour to dried cherry and orange zest. Nerello isn't subtle in its minerality, with notes of crushed rock, tobacco, earth, dried spices, and thyme.
On the palate, wines offer up noticeable tannins (tannin level makes this wine different from Pinot Noir), moderately high acidity, and a long brooding finish.
Nerello Mascalese is often blended with Nerello Cappuccio in Etna and Faro DOC wines. Wines with higher Nerello Cappuccio have a deeper color in the glass and can be described as having more earthy, coffee-like characteristics.
Food Pairing with Nerello Mascalese
Try Nerello Mascalese with lighter meats, including poultry or pork with roasted tomato or red pepper, and spices like oregano, thyme, coriander, and sage.
Where Does Nerello Mascalese Come From?
This grape is grown in Sicily, almost exclusively on Mount Etna, and used in the Etna and Faro DOC wines.
The Nerello Mascalese vineyards on Mount Etna vary in age, how they're planted, and elevation. All of these details significantly affect how Nerello grows and makes wine. It can be challenging to ripen since it's a late-ripening grape, especially as you go up in elevation.
Still, some of these higher spots are in demand due to the purity of fruit and mineral flavors from the area's intense black-colored volcanic soils.