2008 Tenuta di Fessina Il Musmeci Etna Rosso Reserve
I started tasting and actively selling wines from Etna Rosso with the 2005 vintage. Back then, the tag line was “Burgundy from Sicily” with the idea that by using old vine, native grape varieties, mostly Nerello Mascalese, and the altitudes of Mount Etna, still an active volcano, a red wine with an Italian spirit yet elegant, long lived, and thrillingly complex.
And while the wines have always been interesting, what I’d hoped for was that they’d mature into their own character and not try to be anything other than great wine from the place it’s from. And I think I’ve finally got one with Tenuta di Fessina’s Il Musmeci Etna Rosso.
This wine is born of 80-year-old vines from the highest vineyard farmed by Tenuta di Fessina, with Silvia Maestrelli as owner and wine maker – for which she won Innovative Producer of the Year – and Gian Domenica Negro as agronomist – past vineyard manager for none other than Angelo Gaia. To sum up, this is a rock-star team working with fantastic material. And this bottle, a closeout back vintage of their top wine, undoubtedly shows the great potential of Etna’s wines:
Served in a Zalto Burgundy glass, this is an intense and wonderful aromatic experience: Bitter chocolate, dark cherries, and candied orange zest all fill the glass. The wine is layered, and may have once upon a time seen some oak, but I certainly don’t sense it now.
The palate entry is soft, and I would say at the height of youthful maturity – the fruit is all still there, but now it’s joined by secondary aromas of earth, herbs, and savoriness. The finish is grippy, long and savory.
As Jancis Robinson notes: “Maturing and just mid ruby with broad orange rim. Brooding nose hinting at richness. Intense, concentrated palate with firm but polished tannins. In spite of its colour, a really youthful palate with a gripping, long succulent finish. Not ‘Burgundy’, but ‘Barolo from the south.’”
It may not be Burgundy, nor is it Barolo… but it is a thrilling, elegant and complex Italian red from Mount Etna – this perfectly aged, 10 year old wine gets it just right.
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