The Wine: Versante Nord Nerello Mascalese 2019
Eduardo Torres Acosta Versante Nord Nerello Mascalese is a red natural wine made from 100% Nerello Mascalese grapes farmed organically on Mount Etna, Sicily. The vineyards are planted on volcanic and ash soils. Low-intervention in the cellar for a spectacularly deep and structured Nerello Mascalese.
The Producer: Eduardo Torres Acosta
Eduardo Torres Acosta, a young winemaker from the Canary Islands, first began working with vines in Tenerife where his father (a local postman) had a small plot of land. In 2012 Eduardo moved to Sicily, where he interned at Azienda Arianna Occhipinti (you may have heard of her). Soon thereafter he got a job as the enologist at Passopisciaro, one of the pioneers of Etna's new wave of producers. Eduardo eventually decided to start his own project, and despite his "outsider" status, managed to rent several fine parcels on Etna from locals.
Up until the 2017 vintage, the grapes were harvested and then trucked to Arianna Occhipinti’s estate in Vittoria. Since the winemaking facility was not on Etna, the wines were not allowed DOC status and simply carry the IGT Terre Siciliane designation. In 2018, Eduardo was able to convert a small Etna garage into a winery but has decided to keep the wines IGT.
Today Eduardo works on eight small parcels totaling 4.5 hectares. The main production is a wine called "Versante Nord", produced in both white and red. Both wines are sourced from six parcels totaling less than two hectares on the cooler, north-facing side of Mt. Etna (hence the name) at elevations ranging from 750 to 950 meters. In traditional style, the vineyards are mixed plantings of various local varieties.
The red grapes include a majority of Nerello Mascalese with Nerello Cappuccio, Alicante, Garnacha and others; the whites include Minella, Catarratto, Grecanico, Carricante and Inzolia. The training is mainly alberello, in some cases growing as bushes and in some trained on wires. (source: Louis Dressner)
The Region: Sicily
Sicily is Italy’s biggest island and also its biggest region. It’s separated from the mainland by the Strait of Messina (Stretto di Messina). The capital of Sicily is Palermo, a majestically decadent multicultural city offering one of the richest culinary traditions in Italy.
Sicily’s history and culture are fascinating, to say the least. Their complexity is manifest in the diverse architecture of its cities. All over the region and particularly in Palermo we can find Arab, Greek, Roman, and Spanish influences in the layout of the city as well as in the food and local language.
Sicily is the third biggest producing country in Italy, behind Veneto and Tuscany. The quality of Sicilian wines has increased steadily in the past 30 years. Some international grape varietals - mainly chardonnay and syrah - have found a place in Sicilian viticulture, traditionally dominated by native varietals such as Nero d’Avola, Catarratto, Grillo, and Inzolia.
The Terroir of Sicily
Sicily proximity to Northern Africa and position right at the center of the Mediterranean reflect deeply on its climate. Endless sunshine, moderate rainfalls, and good aeration characterize pretty much the whole region with minor seasonal variations. Palm trees and other tropical plants and fruits are a fairly common sight in Sicily all year round.
Among the several benefits of this climate one stands out: in Sicily, grapes can grow without being imperiled by mildew, rot, or any other disease brought by too much humidity. Sicilian grapes are generally speaking naturally healthy, hence the substantial number of certified organic or biodynamic wineries.
The Red Wines of Sicily
The most widely planted red grape varietal in Sicily is Nero d'Avola, which accounts for about 20% of the total regional wine production. Frappato is another prominent red varietal, used to make the only DOCG wine in Sicily, Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG.
Less common but typical of Sicily are Alicante, similar to Grenache, Nocera, and Perrone, often blended with Nero d'Avola. On the slopes of the active volcano Mount Etna, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio are key red grape varietals in the popular Etna DOC appellation.
The White Wines of Sicily
Marsala and Passito di Pantelleria are perhaps the most famous Sicilian white wines, although their popularity has been waning over the years in favor of dry and refreshing white wines made from native varietals Inzolia and Grillo are fairly easy to find in the United States and generally very good.
In a similar way to Umbria, the Central Italian region known for the red tannic wine Sagrantino di Montefalco, Chardonnay has found its place also in Sicily. Chardonnay from Sicily can vary in quality depending on the producer.
On Primal Wine we sell one of the few 100% Chardonnay vinified with extended skin-contact in the style of an Orange Wine made by the excellent Marabino winery from organically farmed grapes.