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WTN: Etna disappointment

by Mark S » Sat May 31, 2014 12:48 pm

With all the talk about how great Etna wines are these days, let's consider an epic fail instead.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso, 'Guardiola', 2005 Maroonish cranberry red colored. Salted plum and cherry liquor nose. Mulled fruits, Christmas cake with rum and candied fruits, macerated plums, oak cask on the still fairly tannic finish. The wood here is thick and heavy, hearkening back to DeGrazia's earlier love and promotion of barrique aged Barolo, and is the worst offender of any of his Etna crus I've had so far (harkening back to 2004). This is thick, heavy, and plodding, with off-putting wood on the finish, I am really not sure what this wine is trying to do or become. Not something I want to drink. 14% Ben Christiansen's most recent Cellartracker note (7/15/2009) seems to best sum up the experience: rustic, earthy, woody.
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Anders Källberg

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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Anders Källberg » Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:25 pm

Thanks for the warning, Mark.
Do you know if more recent vintages may be more balanced, in particular regarding the oak treatment?

Cheers,
Anders
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Mark S » Sun Jun 01, 2014 8:06 pm

Anders Källberg wrote:Thanks for the warning, Mark.
Do you know if more recent vintages may be more balanced, in particular regarding the oak treatment?

Cheers,
Anders


Anders, I think it was just the Guardiola in this particular vintage. This is the cuvee which seems to given the most oak, and I haven't noticed it as intrusive in the Fuedo di Mezzo or the Calderara Sottana, and of course, the base Etna Rosso which sells here around $20 is very fresh. I have not had 2009's or newer yet, but a fair number of 2004, 05,06, and 08's, and those all seem better balanced, and I would not strike this estate off my list as I do enjoy the wines made there.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Slatcher » Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:41 pm

FWIW (I fully realise the limitations of any comparison), I recently tasted their 2013 single contrada wines from barrel, and did not notice undue oak on any of the wines. In their PDF data sheets, they describe the ageing of all their wines in the same way: spontaneous malolactic fermentation and aging in French oak barriques, tonneaux. Bottling after 16-18 months of wood aging and 1 month in steel.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Anders Källberg » Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:10 am

Thanks for the input, Mark and Steve.
The reason I was asking was that these wines have recently been introduced by an importer in Sweden and I was curious about them, but also a bit sceptical, since DeGrazia's name behind the winery could mean a (for me) too modern approach which could imply the rick of loss of terroir. Also the importer is known not to be shy of big, concentrated, oaky wines, but now I feel I can at least give them a try.
/Anders
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Eli R » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:18 am

Hi,

We "discovered" this winery here in Israel when a local boutique importer visited the estate a couple of years ago and introduced the wines to the local market.
The Etna Rosso is a fine wine, fruity and enjoyable young. The cru wines from the old vines at the higher altitude, are a different story and require cellaring.

As I read the story Marc De Grazia "discovered" the treasure of very old vines in the Etna area back in 2002.
2004 was the first real commercial harvest.
The first phase of buying vineyards and turning them around for quality wine production ended in 2012.
The Tenuta delle Terre Nere name got its recognition only in the last 3-4 years.
Marc De Grazia, being a wine merchant and exporter himself, is developing the market as the quality improves.

So my recommendation is taste the Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso, 'Guardiola', from 2009 and after and decide if you like the style.

Eli
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Mark S » Wed Jun 04, 2014 8:41 am

Anders, by all means try them! They are good wines overall, and you do get a sense of the different crus by trying the different vineyards. I think it was vintage specific with regards to the oak and later wines I've had have not shown as oaky as this particular Guardiola, although to my taste the Calderara Sottana is probably my favorite. I have not yet tried the Santo Spiritu or the Dom (the pre-phylloxera vines and Expensive!) yet.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by David M. Bueker » Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:06 am

Mark S wrote:With all the talk about how great Etna wines are these days...


Where? There was some brief buzz a while back, but it sure died away without much of an impact.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Slatcher » Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:27 am

Eli R wrote:The cru wines from the old vines at the higher altitude, are a different story and require cellaring.

Indeed. They are big and tannic. I found them surprisingly enjoyable from barrel, but certainly intend to keep mine for at least a few years - quite probably a lot longer.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Slatcher » Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:32 am

David M. Bueker wrote:
Mark S wrote:With all the talk about how great Etna wines are these days...

Where? There was some brief buzz a while back, but it sure died away without much of an impact.

There's a bunch of journalists who have recently returned from being wined and dined on Sicily (and I think Etna in particular), so hold onto your seats :) I also have a few blog posts in the pipeline - but paid my own way.

Irrespective of media buzz, I very much got the impression of a relatively new region that was still in the process of improvement and finding its identity, so I think you will hear more about them.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Mark S » Thu Jun 05, 2014 3:46 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:
Mark S wrote:With all the talk about how great Etna wines are these days...


Where? There was some brief buzz a while back, but it sure died away without much of an impact.



You must have had your eyes on your i-phone when the thread(s) surfaced about Passopisciaro being the next Chambolle popped up the other board.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jun 05, 2014 4:06 pm

They clearly dropped to page 2 so fast that they "buzzed" on the way down.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Dale Williams » Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:24 pm

Not an expert on buzz, but I'd say discussion (in US fora) and serious wine store stocking (in NY at least) of Etna wines have both increased 5X in last 5 year.
Certainly I drink 10X as much
My favorite of the Terre Nere line for reds remains the base level. But I've never tried the pre-Phlyox one.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Oliver McCrum » Fri Jun 06, 2014 12:36 am

I agree with Dale. I don't think Etna's a flash in the pan at all, I think it's one of Italy's most interesting red wine appellations.

Terre Nere's wines seem less oaky now than they were; still barriques, perhaps not as many new ones. The base wine is aged in botti, though.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:13 am

Maybe in NYC. Or perhaps LA or SF. Do not see them here.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Mark S » Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:35 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Maybe in NYC. Or perhaps LA or SF. Do not see them here.


Look, when you see these in Ithaca or Syracuse or Rochester, they are mainstream. Just because you may not like them doesn't mean you need to pan their significance.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:12 am

I also don't find the wines of Etna terribly impressive whenever I do get to try them, so between that and availability..
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Oliver McCrum » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:11 pm

More for the rest of us.

I should add that the whites are often overlooked. The Pietramarina from Benanti, all Carricante, is one of Italy's fines white wines, and one of its most ageworthy. I drank the '07 recently and it was extraordinary.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by David M. Bueker » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:15 pm

Too much good wine out there to spend time kissing volcanic frogs. Cornelissen is a terrible vinous ambassador with his massive variation. Too much un drinkable swill.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Mark S » Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:17 am

Oliver McCrum wrote:More for the rest of us.

I should add that the whites are often overlooked. The Pietramarina from Benanti, all Carricante, is one of Italy's fines white wines, and one of its most ageworthy. I drank the '07 recently and it was extraordinary.



Oliver, I love the carricante's I've had and actually think they may outlive the reds. What is the oldest one you've had (understanding that not a lot was made/exported prior to around 2004 or so). I think they could easily go 20 years or so.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Oliver McCrum » Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:01 pm

Mark,

I've had a ten year old Pietra Marina which I thought was excellent, I can't remember the vintage (this was a few years ago). Very minerally, very complex, beeswax, flowers, wet stones, just mouthwatering. It's from parcels of very old vines at very high elevation on the east side of Etna, a labor of love. Graci's 'Quota 600' white can be very good too.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Slatcher » Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:39 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Too much good wine out there to spend time kissing volcanic frogs. Cornelissen is a terrible vinous ambassador with his massive variation. Too much un drinkable swill.

Whatever you may think of Cornelissen's wines, surely you must accept that they are hardly typical of the region. And I am not sure anyone regards him as an ambassador either.

Incidentally, Benanti's wine is now (from 2009 vintage at least) called Pietra Marina (two words). Pietramarina used to be the name of the wine, but it is now a protected contrada name, and Benanti's grapes do not all come from the designated area. But with a space in the name it is fine :roll: . The Benanti website uses the old name still, but I have just double-checked an actual label.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Oliver McCrum » Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:00 pm

Steve,

Good point, I think Cornelissen would be offended at being accused of being a normal Etna producer.

All of the grapes for Pietra Marina come from eastern Etna, near the village of Milo, which is the only place where you can grow Etna Bianco Superiore, and none of them come from the 'contrada' called Pietramarina. Sort of confusing, but the wine is so good, I'm not worried about it.

They also make an excellent sparkling wine from Carricante, classic method with three years on the lees. I don't think it's imported into the US, sadly, maybe you'll have more luck in the UK.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Slatcher » Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:32 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:All of the grapes for Pietra Marina come from eastern Etna, near the village of Milo, which is the only place where you can grow Etna Bianco Superiore, and none of them come from the 'contrada' called Pietramarina. Sort of confusing, but the wine is so good, I'm not worried about it.

I thought SOME of the vines were in the contrada, but it could well be that I misunderstood. Without a doubt, the 2009 was the best Etna Bianco I had on my recent holiday there.

I see Julia Harding has a recent article on Cornelissen on Jancis' Purple Pages. It seems as though his wines are a lot more consistent than they used to be.
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