#23 – Pietradolce Archineri Etna Rosso – Sicily, Italy

Estimated retail: $33

Sicily’s Mount Etna is arguably the most exciting wine region in the world right now for Sommeliers. It’s also in my opinion ground zero in the debate between fascinating and flawed wines. Why is that? We are talking about a DOC (Denominazione di origine controllatathat is based on an active volcano and surrounding areas. This means a combination of unique climate, wild weather patterns, a plethera of native varietals, extreme growing conditions, and steep slopes. It’s vibe as a sort of “last frontier” of wine has also drawn a number of deeply passionate winemakers with wildly different winemaking personalities and experience. Many of them veer toward extremist in their philosophy and techniques. Bottom line: the area is in a constant state of unpredictability, experimentation, and discovery. There is a very real tendancy with both food, beer, spirits, and wine to fall in love with something because it is so incredibly different. The challenge is making sure the excitement doesn’t make you ignorant or blind to varying degrees of faults.

The wines of Pietradolce fall squarely on the side of fascinating. Their vineyards sit along the Northern Slopes of Etna varying in altitude from 2,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level. These old vine plantings or bush vines are 50 to 80 years old. The varietal is the Nerello Mascalese and it does exceptionally well in the black, volcanic soil mixed with stone and sand. The Archineri falls into the Pinot Noir weight class, but with far different flavors. Its a heady mix of fleshed out berry, red plum, tobacco leaf, and charred herb. The floral elements languish gracefully in the background mixed with incredibly mild hints of oak. The wine manages to feel untamed, but without feeling raw or unrefined. A sumptuous wine to start a love affair with Etna.

Be forewarned as you venture through the region as there are a great many frogs you may end up kissing before finding your next prince/princess.

— with Cat Nguyen and The Wine Nerds.

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