Over the last few years, the amount of Etna Rosso in my cellar has been steadily increasing. Along with Passopisciaro, the wines of Graci have caught my attention. Perhaps, it’s no coincidence that their vineyards are located around the corner from each other.
Both producers make their wines from mostly or 100% Nerello Mascelese. These two producers have stood out through their consistent ability to deliver wines of personality, intrigue and great harmony.
Today we offer you the Graci Contrada (single vineyard wines) + their Etna Rosso.
Graci, are, killing it! These are refined wines, beautifully balanced, elegant, with amazing textures, and, entrancing perfumes.
2017 is Graci’s 10th year on Mt Etna following the sale of his grandfather’s vineyards in central Sicily and his decision to focus on high quality and Organic (Certified) wines on Europe’s highest active volcano. As with most regions of Italy, winemaking has been a part of life for thousands of years, and Etna is one of just three sub-regions in Italy (with Barolo and Barbaresco) to have the MGA (Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva).
Graci is one of a small band of producers who have in a short space of time brought global attention to this extreme, high altitude vine growing region. In late April 2017 Alberto Graci and Angelo Gaja announced their 50:50 purchase of a 21 Ha vineyard on south western Etna.
Ian d’Agata cites three primary reasons as to why Etna is so special for wine production and Graci’s wines reflect all three. The Alpine climate on a Mediterranean Island creates tremendous diurnal temperature shifts to enhance the aromatics. The volcanic soils are based on up to 46 different types of lava d’Agata says, and the different Crus or Contrade are closely linked to lava flows. Finally the prevalence of un-grafted, pre-phylloxera vines, including Graci’s Barbabecchi, which at over 1000 meters above sea level, is Europe’s highest vineyard and often not harvested until early November!
In his wines, you find elegance and a sense of place: from his adoption of organic practices in the vineyard and absolute minimal intervention in the winery using only cement and large oak. So relieved, they are not destroying the wines with new oak!
Etna Rosso 2014 The first time I had a Graci, it was over 40°C, the air-conditioning in the pizza resto wasn’t coping and it still caught my attention. The second time I had the flu and was only tasting, my note read look at this again soon. Try 2014 finally in perfect drinking conditions proved my suspicions were correct. This is now my entry level Nerello Mascelese of choice. Can’t wait to try their single vineyard gear when it arrives! $44ea with less than 6. $40 for any mixed 6.
Feudo di Mezzo 2014, (Due Bicchieri) intense, taut, minerally, balsamic yet rich in notes of red fruits and rosehip tea; uplifting, long, the palate opens to give air to its silky tannins and beautiful finish. A bolder wine than the Acurìa, perhaps more masculine, yet still harmonious and textured. $90ea with less than 6. $82 for any mixed 6.
Arcurìa 2014 (Due Bicchieri) is fine and distinctive, showing beautifully mature fruit with minerally and balsamic notes, and in the mouth intensity, depth and a great structure. An elegant fine wine with great depth and length of flavour. The more feminine compared with Feudo di Mezzo $90eawith less than 6. $82 for any mixed 6.
Graci Etna Rosso Contrada Barbaecchi Quota 1000 2013 At an elevation similar to Passopisciaro’s Rampate vineyards this rates as perhaps the highest vineyard in Italy. Grown at an altitude of 1000m above sea level. The higher up the hill you go the more elegant and refined the wines become. Accordingly this a super fine Nerello Mascelese. It’s insane to think that it is often picked in November. Only a couple of months before the Southern Hemisphere vintage starts! $230ea with less than 6. $220 for any mixed 6.
Your tongue will thank you!
*Stocks of the Contrade are extremely limited. First come, first served. Following allocation, in June you will be invoiced for 50% of the total. The balance payable when the wines are ready to ship in late-July.