Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio
Although widely planted throughout Sicily, Nerello Mascalese most famously grows on the slopes and the fertile surrounds of Sicily’s Mt Etna and is largely responsible for the much-vaunted Etna Rosso. Often grown at significant elevation on Etna’s volcanic soils, Nerello Mascalese (typically blended with a small percentage of Nerello Cappuccio) can draw comparisons with Barolo and even Burgundy. Though comparisons such as this are generally misleading, the best of the wines indeed can have an intense and, at their best, ethereal fragrance with red fruit and dark mineral notes, supported by linear tannins. Of the two Nerellos, Mascalese is certainly regarded as the nobler grape with a greater expression of fruit, savoury, earthy characters and a strong tannic backbone. Nerello Cappuccio offers less tannin but a little more colour and can add complexity, and though regarded as inferior to Mascalese, it is not common to find a varietal bottling to verify this.