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Two from Sicily

April 23, 2011 2 comments

These two wines from Sicily are made from different grapes grown in radically different areas.  I initially preferred the dark flavors of the Cottanera.  As the wines breathed the Cottanera demonstrated its need for aging and the Maccari became open for drinking.

Cottanera was founded in the 1960s by Francesco Cambria.  The two sons, Guglielmo and Enzo, took over the company in the 1990s.  They set about replanting new vineyards and refurbishing the winery.  The estate covers a total of 100 hectares on the northern slopes of Mount Etna at an altitude of 730 meters.  50 hectares are planted at Castiglione di Sicilia and 5 hectares at Solicchiata.  The Fatagione is a blend of 85% Nerello Mascalese and 15% international varieties from the Castiglione di Sicilia area.  It vinified in temperature controlled stainless steel and aged for 12 months in medium-high toasted French oak barriques (40% new).

The Etna DOC is shaped like a backwards “C” that hugs the middle of the volcano. The soils differ throughout. Castiglione di Sicilia is located on the northern slopes of Mt Etna and from this old engraving appear to be of volcanic tufa.  The climate is quite cool which results in a late harvest of mid-October!

Val di Noto is famous for being destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1693.  The wide-spread destruction of southern Sicilian buildings cleared the way for the birth of Sicilian Baroque architecture.  Antonio Moretti vacationed here in the 1990s.  He decided to create a winery so along with his daugher Monica, they acquired more than fifty properties to create their estate.  The vineyards are planted using the old l’Alberello system.  Alberello (little tree) vines are grown close to the ground and narrowly spaced toallow mules or horses to plough in between.  This system allows the vines to survive the extremely dry summers.

1693 Fire and earthquake destroy Val di Noto town, "Specula physico-mathematico-historica...", Johann Zahn, 1696

Fuedo Maccari is located in the south-eastern corner of Sicily in Noto. This wine is 100% Nero d’Avola from 20-year-old vines grown at an altitude of 80 meters. The vineyards have a southern exposure.  The soils are mostly volcanic with some areas of white sand and chalk.  It is aged in new and one year old French oak barriques for 15 months. “Saia” is an Arabic word referring to small canals build to hold water for summer time use.


2007 Feudo Maccari, Saia, Nero D’Avola, Sicily
This wine has a darker core than the Cottanera.  It has a light nose that turns towards darker berries.  In the mouth is has a lighter body with an immediate delivery of red fruit, acidity along with some underlying darker red flavors.  There are definitely tannins lurking about.  Though the wine tilts towards tart red berries, it takes on blue fruits and becomes more mouthfilling with air.  Give it a few years in the cellar.  This is $27 at MacArthur’s.  **(*) 2014-2017.


2007 Cottanera, Fatagione, Nerello Mascalese, Sicily
The Cottanera is a medium ruby color with cherry core.  It is bit darker and richer than the Maccari.  However it is definitely a drier wine with a tighter structure.  There are both grape and wood tannins throughout.  It is drying in the finish.  I like the dark flavors of this wine but it is somewhat shutdown at this point.  Give it several years in the cellar.  This is $30 at MacArthur’s.  **(*) 2014-2019.