That’s Mount Etna to you, Bub, the highest and most active volcano in Europe. Not to be bothered by pesky events like eruptions, deadly ash showers and lava flows, the inhabitants of the foothills of Etna, located on the east coast of Sicily between Messina and Catania, have cultivated farms and vineyards since time immemorial. The rich volcanic soil on the north, east and south slopes of the volcano — the area covered by the D.O.C regulations — is especially beneficial in mineral content. The rules of Etna Bianco allow a minimum of 60 percent carricante grapes and no more than 40 percent catarratto; Etna Rosso must consist of a minimum of 80 percent nerello mascalese grapes. All the grapes involved, both in majority and minority positions, are native to the region.

The wines under consideration today are an Etna Bianco and an Etna Rosso, each being, I think, an excellent representative of the style and the grapes. The wines are eminently drinkable and food-friendly but possess plenty of personality and character.

Samples for review.
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erse
The Tenuta di Fessina Erse 2014, Etna Bianco, is a blend of 80 percent carricante grapes and a combined 20 percent catarratto and minnella, and you can add those to your roster of grapes little-known outside their own regions. The wine sees no oak, being made completely in stainless steel. The color is medium straw-gold, a perfect introduction to heady aromas of straw, heather and meadow flowers, with notes of dried pears and apricots and hints of quince and ginger. The whole effect on the palate is bright, spare, dry, transparent, saline and savory; flavors of roasted lemons and spiced pears are deeply spicy and driven by clean, vivid acidity and a touch of a scintillating limestone edge; a hint of dried herbs and flowers and almond skin lingers through the finish. 12 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Gian Domenica Negro. Production was about 540 cases. Now through 2017 with such fare as asparagus risotto, frito misto or, in our case, the Filipino chicken and rice stew called lugaw. Excellent. About $25.

Leonardo LoCascio Selections, The Winebow Group, New York.
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alm-rosso-bottle-nv
Alta Moro is a new label from Sicily’s well-known Cusumano estate. Made from 100 percent nerello mascalese grapes, the wine aged in a combination of stainless steel tanks and 2,000-liter barrels, equal to about 528 gallons. (In other words, not the standard French barrique of about 59 gallons.) The color is the entrancing red cherry hue of a glass of wine in a Dutch still-life painting. Did I say cherries? Oh, yes, red and black cherries with hints of slightly astringent cherry skins and pits, heightened by notes of cloves and allspice, a bit of earth and loam and notes of tobacco, cigarette paper and cedar, with a slightly resinous quality. The wine is quite dry, sporting a lovely open-knit texture and a feeling of lightness and elegance despite the burgeoning dusty tannic quality that turns rather austere through the finish; there’s a satisfying aspect of acid grip here, as well as a bit of pull from the tannins. 14 percent alcohol. Now through 2019 to ’20, not with steaks but with braised short-ribs or veal shanks and hearty pizzas or pasta dishes. Excellent. About $24.

Imported by Terlato Wines International, Lake Bluff, Ill.
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