The greatness of Nerello Mascalese – 2014 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso

It’s a rare thing to come across a wine as wonderful as this. Perhaps it’s even more rare then that this is a producer’s ‘base’ wine. I’d opened a bottle, and was able to take my time with it over three nights. The journey was magical, and more than I could have imagined.

It would be foolish of me to assume you’ve already had a Nerello Mascalese, or one from Tenuta delle Terre Nere for that matter. But if you have, then you already know this is a great wine, at a great price. But for those of you that don’t yet know, I suggest you add this grape, and this producer to your regular shopping list. However, this vintage is on an all-together higher level, for the base wine, at least; though the Cru wines are there as well.

Yes, it snows in Sicily – on/near Etna, but also in areas near the sea.

If memory serves, I’ve been drinking these regularly since the 2007 vintage; each year I buy a little more, if for no other reason than they disappear all too quickly. Food friendly, versatile, aromatically intriguing, with an elegance on the palate that is typically reserved for wines costing much, much more. Yes, Burgundy, I’m talking about you.

A lot has been written about Nerello Mascalese, and for good reason, it’s a Noble Grape, in my opinion. For those that might take issue with that statement, I’d suggest an in-depth tasting of the 2014s (and 2015s). While I’m at it, I’ll say that Carricante is right there with it; both deserve (and will no doubt receive) DOCG status within their proper growing regions, in my opinion.


To give one perspective on the land/soil here in the Etna region, consider this picture, which I feel is worth a thousand words; taken in March of 2016, with the top of Etna completely capped by snow.

The soil is as unique as you’ll find – black, rich, life giving. Nerello Mascalese, and others varieties really flourish here.
March 2017.

Winegrowing here at Tenuta delle Terre Nere takes place at a number of different vineyards/Crus that span not only diverse terroir, but range from 400-1,000 meters above sea level. In the photo above, pre-phylloxera vines in the tiny Grand Cru, Don Peppino. If you’ve not yet experienced the wines from this vineyard, I suggest you try and find some immediately; buy as much as you can, it’s that special, and can last for ages.

From the website “The property consists of over 30 hectares, divided into 10 parcels in four crus, with a total vineyard surface of 27 hectares, which we mean to enlarge to 30-32 hectares. Except for 6 hectares recently planted, the rest are between 50 and 100 years old. One parcel, having survived phylloxera, has reached the venerable age of 130-140 years old.”

Every year, the first wines I taste, on the first day of VinItaly fair, are the wines of Tenuta delle Terre Nere. This year’s visit to VinItaly will be no different; these wines are exciting.

13 January, 2018   “Wow, do I ever love this wine. Remove the (aggregate) cork, and this reveals wave after wave of soil, beautifully rich, deeply inflected soil. It takes a good 15 minutes in the glass for this to blow off, and what’s left is just stunning (again, just differently). Autumn woods, berry patch, tar-stained cranberry, fresh mushroom cap, citrus, lilac, etc. Medium-bodied, with immediate grip and presence on the palate, the finish sets off immediately into the distance. This seems to have it all: structure, balance, deep sense of place/grape, and character. Outstanding achievement, bravo! 14,0% abv., drink thru 2027+”  highly recommended+

* update * night 2 was slightly better, night 3 was just astoundingly good.

To the entire team at Tenuta delle Terre Nere, from the bottom of my heart, grazie mille di tutto! a presto!

This bottle was the last of a case I purchased 13 months ago. I’m thrilled to have such good memories, but deeply saddened I have no more. Wait, the 2016s will be here soon, yippee!

company website


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