Wine Advocate 91 points - The 2010 Etna Rosso Calderara Sottana is a lovely introduction to the vintage at Terre Nere. Pine, menthol, red cherries and wild flowers all take shape in the glass. Firm tannins provide the backbone in this finely sculpted, chiseled Nerello Mascalese. Savory notes reappear to frame the bright, high-toned finish. If opened today, the 2010 will benefit from a few hours of air. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2020. (Feb 2013)
Wine Spectator 91 points - This structured red shows the elegant side of the appellation, with fresh-crushed cherry and wild currant notes backed by a firm, minerally spine. The fine finish reveals mineral and fruit. Drink now through 2020.—N.W. (Jun 12 2013)
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Wine maker notes
Calderara Sottana’s soil is easily recognizable at first sight. Of all the crus of the Etna appellation it is by far the stoniest. So much so, that in the most remarkable examples you cannot see the soil for the stones: fist sized, light weight, black volcanic pumice. The word Calderara is reminiscent of “caldera” or “cauldron”, probably due to the fact that the black rocks hold the day’s heat through part of the night. The elevation is 600-700 metres. Harvest is sometime in the second to third week of October. Locally the cru has an outstanding reputation. Our Calderara Sottana is a single vineyard wine produced only from vineyards between 50-100 years old. Of all our single vineyard wines it is perhaps the most complete: much like a wide angle lens encompasses the most ample panorama, so Calderara seems to contain and display the widest spectrum of flavors, bouquets, nuances. Floral and spicy, leathery and aromatic, it delivers a wonderful filling sensation on the palate, yet stepping lightly. Don Peppino, whose devotion to Calderara led him to work our vineyards for seventy years, best describes the wines of Calderara: they are “creamy”, he says. And he’s right. Poultry, red meats, game, pasta, pecorino and bread.
The estate is located in the northern slopes of the volcano, with vineyards between the village of Solicchiata and the town of Randazzo, the area historically recognized as the finest in the appellation for fine red wines. The property consists of over 30 hectars, divided into 10 parcels in four crus, with a total vineyard surface of 23 hectars, which we mean to enlarge to 30-32 hectars. Except for 6 hectars recently planted, the rest are between 50 and 100 years old. One parcel, having survived phylloxera, has reached the venerable age of 130-140 years old. The soils differ very much from cru to cru, and even within the crus themselves. The same is true of the altitudes, our vineyards ranging between 600 and 1000 metres above sea level.
Four parcels lie in Calderara Sottana at an elevation of 600-700 metres. By far the rockiest cru in the appellation, in the roughest parts you can’t see the soil for the black volcanic pumice carpeting the vineyards. Two vineyards lie in Guardiola, between 800 and 900 metres altitude, on very poor soil: volcanic sand mixed with basaltic pebbles and traces of ash. Both are steeply sloped and tightly terraced, causing all vineyard work to be done manually. Two more properties lie in Feudo di Mezzo. Very old vines, also terraced, traditional alberello plantings, very tightly spaced, also worked exclusively manually. Loose deep volcanic ash roughed up by a good measure of small volcanic pebbles. In Santo Spirito we have two vineyards as well. Although adjacent to Guardiola, the soil is dramatically different: a rich deep volcanic ash so fine as to call to mind talcum powder, were it not jet black. Besides estate owned vineyards, Terre Nere has long term leases on 4 hectars and buys grapes from small local vignerons who follow our organic procedures.
All our wines are produced from local varieties, and all are D.O.C. Etna. We produce two versions of Etna Bianco. One from a field blend of Carricante, Catarratto, Inzolia and Grecanico. The other, from Carricante alone, is barrel fermented. Our remarkable Etna Rosso issues from both old and young vines of Nerello Mscalese and Nerello Cappuccio throughout our properties, and some acquired grapes as well. The very much sought after Etna Rosato, cherished for its luminous and mineral nature, is also produced from Nerello Mascalese. The very finest grapes from the oldest vines in our four crus are vinified and bottled separately after 16-20 months of wood aging. These single-vineyard bottlings represent the finest expression of the Etna appellation. Finally, a word must be spent on our Etna Rosso Prephylloxera.
Born of a tiny parcel in Calderara Sottana, whose vines survived phylloxera, it is the quintessence of Nerello Mascalese and Calderara Sottana, and by extention, the heart and soul of this volcanic terroir. Its second name – La Vigna di Don Peppino – is a tribute to the vigneron who cultivated this parcel with infinite care and untiring competence for over 70 years. If it were not for Don Peppino, this vineyard probably would no longer exist, and certainly would not be as vigorous and healthy as it is today. Though too old to work, Don Peppino still honours us with his invaluable advice in all viticultural matters.