SRC (Read pronouncing the letters: esSeRCi), roughly translates to “Here We Are” In Italian, which is a play on words being an acronym and also the initials of the family members; Sandra, Rori and Cinzia.
Etna just keeps on giving! SRC’s reds are Nerello Mascelese dominant, the Rosso blended with 10% of other varieties, mostly Sangiovese, the Crus Rivaggi blended with 20% Grenache, and, the Alberello 100% Nerello Mascelese.
Must buys for those who love the style!
I wish I had just added these to the WineFront database as ‘SRC’ to make life easy, as that is all that appears on the label. It’s a project born under the wings of maverick, cult winemaker Frank Cornelissen, though wholly its own thing from young gun winemakers taking on the northern slopes of Etna. It’s been written before, but this is one of my favourite places to drink from on earth. Rarely bad wines, though oak can play a strong hand at times, but here, nothing added, a judicious seasoning from vessels, choice sites, a celebration of Nerello Mascalese. Here the fruit is sourced from two contrada, Calderara and Crasa. A producer off to a flying start. MIKE BENNIE, The Winefront
About Nerello Mascelese and Nerello Cappuccio
Typically wines made from the Nerello’s exude an entrancing perfume with a delicacy, elegance, and, sophistication that carries through to the palate. With vineyards from 400-1000m in elevation, the lower lying vineyards tend to yield bolder styles, while the higher sites offer greater restraint often being quite ethereal. Texturally the tannins often remind of a more supple Barolo.
Wines of Nerello Mascelese and Nerello Cappuccio have been called the Barolo of the South by some, Italy’s Burgundy by others. I prefer to call them, simply, great wines from Etna.
Whilst Nerello Mascelese’s enormous bunches, with their big berries, result in wines of a relatively pale appearance, there is nothing insignificant about their aromas, flavours, and, textures.
Indigenous to the Etna region, Nerrello meaning Black and Mascelese derived from Mascali, a comune to the east of Etna. Research indicates it is possibly a cross between Sangiovese and Mantonico Bianco. That parentage would make it a sibling of Gaglioppo from Calabria. The full parentage is and number of different varieties have yet to be determined with commercial Nerello Mascelese plantings including several unidentified varieties. Some genetic work suggests Nerello Mascelese could be related to the white grape Carricante.*
What’s the Etna style?
Such a naff question in so many ways! Although many of the vines of Etna have been planted for decades if not centuries, Etna’s renaissance really only started 20 years ago. SRC first vintage less than a generation ago!
In 30 years we may have a better picture of the regions true capability. One thing is certain, Etna is producing some of the most exciting, personality-filled wines I’ve come across in a long time.
Like any variety, there is an array of styles being made with variation to maceration time, new vs old oak, small vs large oak, élévage (maturation before bottling), being the most significant factors.
One of the biggest factors yet to show itself fully is the difference between vine that are ‘Pei Franco’ (French Foot) planted on their own roots and those that are grafted onto rootstock ‘Pei Rupestris. Direct comparison from the same producer has typically shown own-rooted vines tend to make more elegant styles, vines on rootstock bolder styles. The jury is still out and until a proper scientific comparison can be made my opinion is simply from empirical evidence.
We are also seeing the introduction of other varieties to the hill. SRC’s Rivaggi is blended with Grenache, their Etna Rosso with Sangiovese, the Alberello (which translates to bush vine) being the only 100% Nerello wine.
If you take a short trip from Etna to Faro, with only 35 acres of vines for the entire appellation, located on the North East tip of the island, Casematte are making excellent blends. Their top wine the ‘Faro’ blends Nerello Mascelese wines blended with Nerello Cappuccio, Nocciola, and Nero d’Avola. The level of intrigue is off-tap, such complexity and harmony. I was fortunate enough to devour one a week ago. Accidently leaving a half glass in the bottle proved I should have been more patient. The wine went to the next level with 24 hours of air! The Nocciola adds a degree of richness and generosity without overwhelming the Nerello. Somewhat like the Grenache in SRC’s Rivaggi. Casematte’s second wine the Peloro blends Nerello Mascelese with Nocciola and is a triumph.
In a nutshell, with varieties suited to the climate, old vines, and, good vineyard management there’s plenty of good material to work with. As lovers of delicious beverages, we got to watch, play, and, drink as the those who labour on the slopes of Etna and Faro strive to make even more exceptional wines.
Where in the world are they made?
I thought I’d share these three maps to help you get your head around Etna and it’s place in Sicily. The first map gives you the big picture. The second highlights the general area planted on Etna, mostly South to South-East facing. The third shows most, but, not all of the Contrada (single vineyards) and their relative elevations.
The fruit comes from the Contrade: Rivaggi 660m above sea level, Calderara 600-700m, Barbabecchi 1000m+, Crasa and Pirao 1000m.
The 2016 Vintage
Sicily will remember the 2016 vintage as one to remember. If this is the general agreement throughout the whole island, we must mention the notable peaks in quality on Etna.
Two thousand sixteen was a year of generally better-balanced wines
The 2016 vintage has absolutely been our very best since we began our activities on the volcano. The reasons are easy to see given the meteorological conditions; the summer was cool and refreshed by a useful rainfall, with very pleasant temperatures. Thus we arrived at the end of September in an idyllic situation for the growth/production balance and health of the grapes. The harvest, thanks to the stress-free summer, began with spectacular grapes and commenced about eight days early, allowing us to bring forward the end of the harvest thus avoiding the rains of the second half of October. The results are a fresh and aromatic Carricante and a Nerello Mascalese of great quality, without the excessive alcohol which is a defining feature in certain vintages, but with brilliant colour and ample tannins.
The 2016 SRC’s are an excellent crop of wines. Mike Bennie’s reviews are after the order form. Below we explore Etna, it’s wines and more. Watch or listen … the choice is yours!
POST VIDEO UPDATE: After 24 hours open these wines all increased in depth and length of fruit incredibly, particularly the Alberello.
Tips for Drinking these Wines
If you have a full set of these wines taste them together you’ll get so much from the experience. The different sites, blends, and, tannin structures will standout more clearly. By drinking in Context (Etna’s from SRC) and with Contrast (3 different wines at 2 levels) you’ll accelerate your understanding of what’s possible and more importantly your enjoyment of the wines.
🌡Temp: 16°C. We tend to drink reds an edge warm. There’s nothing wrong with chucking the bottles in the fridge for 15minutes to drop a few degrees off them. If they end up too cold they’ll warm up quickly in the glass.
🍷Decanting: All of these wines will benefit from being thrown in a decanter, particularly in their youth. If you’re using a Coravin or other wine preserver, pour enough into each glass to be able to try them over the course of several hours. These young reds will open up and be more expressive with a bit of time in the glass.
⏳Time: I love trying good wines stand alone, with food, and, often the next day. It gives them the chance to shine and ensures you don’t miss a good wine through impatience or fail to bring out it’s best by not marrying them to food. Make sure you leave a splash in the bottle to try it 24 hours later, you’ll be rewarded for the experience, particularly when these wines are young.
🕯Cellaring: If you can hold the Contrade, Rivaggi & Alberello for 5 years you will get so much more from them. If you have 3-6 bottles sure crack one and look at it over a couple of days. Any less and you should wait at least 3 years before you looked at the first. They’ll go on to last 10 year the Rivaggi a few more. The Etna Rosso will come together a little earlire and you could look at one in 12-18 months and guage when to drink the next. Each of the wines has a beautiful interplay between fruit, and, tannin! There’s been some question of the low sulphur regime employed at SRC. I can say for sure that the wines are looking fresh with great depth and length of fruit, there is not even a hint of oxidation or volatility.
🥩🍝🍕🍳Food Match: Just think Piedmontese, braises, rich tomato based ragù, truffles, beef, quail, lamb, wild boar, rabbit. Beef carpaccio with egg yolk and truffle oil! Head south and pair it with a pizza and you’ll go to a happy place. They make for excellent BBQ wines too.
The Best 2 Options for Preserving your Wine:
- Grab a Coravin wine preserver.
- Watch this video, “Stop the Wine-ocide” Kaani 2012 – My Deep Dark Secret, one of my first, about saving open bottles of wine from the drain, sorry about the quality, but, the message is still there.