Vinous Media 93
"Luminous golden-tinged straw yellow. Minerals and a hint of white flowers on the saline accented nose. Rich round and smooth, with very deep, complex flavors of honey and pomaceous orchard fruit. Finishes long and vibrant, this is absolutely a knockout. 100% Carricante, the vines of which range from 7 to 60 years of age (but De Grazia uses the youngest vines for the entry-level Etna Bianco blend). -- Ian D'Agat"
James Suckling 93
"Aromas of hot stones, sliced apples and lemons follow through to a full body, oily texture and a rich and flavorful finish. From organically grown grapes. Drink now.
Publish Date: Monday, October 22, 2018"
Wine Advocate 92
"Compared to the Carricante from the Calderara Sottana cru, the 2017 Etna Bianco Santo Spirito (Cuvée delle Vigne Niche) is more mineral-driven in my opinion (by a small margin). Both wines were vinified and aged in the exact same way, so the very subtle differences you taste between the two are wholly territory-driven. The bouquet is crystalline and direct with briny sea aromas, summer peach and sun-dried lemon zest. Some 5,000 bottles were made.”
100% Carricante grown in deep, soft and dark volcanic soil, rich in volcanic ash at 700-750m above sea level. Soft pressing, low temperature fermentation in French oak barrels of a capacity of 5 and 10 hectolitres. Malolacting fermentation and maturation in French oak barriques for 10 months followed by finishing in the bottle for 8 months.
The Terre Nere estate has roughly 20-21 hectares, of which 15 are planted to vines. Roughly 4.5 of these have been uprooted and will be replanted within two years after letting the soil “rest”. Two vineyards, for a total of roughly 11-12 hectares, make up the Calderara Cru, of which 1.5 hectares are pre-phylloxera; the rest are about 40-50 years old (and they have not been uprooted). Two different vineyards comprise the Guardiola Cru, for a total of 2.1 hectares, almost all of which is pre-phylloxera (except for some replanted vines). The Guardiola vineyards are the highest-altitude red-grape vineyards in Europe! The “Feudo di Mezzo” Cru is made up of two other vineyards, for a total of 1.35 hectares.
500,000 years of volcanic eruptions have created endless soil variation in neighboring plots of land, many of them radical. The soil at Terre Nere is mostly volcanic ash speckled by black pumice and peppered with abundant volcanic rock; to call it ‘rocky’ is putting it mildly! The weather variations in the area are profound and generally characterized by exposure, altitude, and ‘airiness,’ defined here as the character of a well-exposed vineyard not protected by hills, and therefore open to the cooling and drying effects of the wind. This is particularly important at Terre Nere because the harvest usually takes place in the last weeks of October, meaning that the grapes are in their most fragile state when the weather ‘breaks’ its autumn pattern, making them susceptible to oidium and mildew. The ‘airiness’ of the climate, however, helps to dry out the grapes after rain and moisture threaten mold.
Above all else, the extraordinary elevation yields dramatic temperature variations between night and day, making the wines of Etna fine and elegant, devoid of the heat and overripe flavors that usually define southern wines. In fact, most people who have tasted these wines, particularly the 2004s, say they find them most akin to Burgundies or Barolos.
Production is simple, classic, and Burgundian in style: the grapes are grown organically, using only bordelaise mixture and organic fertilization – mostly dung. Vinification follows the same lead: maceration-fermentation lasts 10-15 days, followed by malolactic fermentation and aging in oak – 25% new – and bottling around 18 months later.
The 2004 vintage marks the real birth of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, because for the first time the estate is self-sufficient, and the grapes produced were vinified at the estate’s new cellars. The wines are astounding. The ’02 and ’03s have been likened to Pinot and Nebbiolo, as being Burgundian or Langhe-esque. Now there’s no doubt about it. The old vines cuvees are difficult to distinguish from very fine Burgundy! With their subtlety and generosity, the wines manage to be rich and precise at the same time.
Farming Practice: Certified Organic