Destructive, dangerous, volatile; throughout history volcanos have wrought havoc. But things of great beauty often rise from the ashes and some of Italy's most exciting wines are being produced from the rich soils on the slopes of Sicily's Mt. Etna. The Cusumano family has been one of the trailblazers in the region and their Alta Mora wines beautifully showcase why these wines are so captivating.
Mt. Etna is Europe's largest active volcano and Alta Mora means "tall and black" - an apt description of Etna's elevation of nearly 11,000 feet and its black volcanic soil. The rich soils imbue the wines with intense minerality and depth of flavor while maintaining impressive freshness and grace.
Third generation winemaker Diego Cusumano and his family are committed to crafting wines that authentically express the terroir of their various vineyards in Sicily. Their Alta Mora project on Mt. Etna is relatively new; after years of searching they acquired their first plot of land on the volcano's northern slopes in 2013. Their intuition and tenacity have paid off beautifully and the most recent Alta Mora vintages are superb.
Alta Mora Etna Bianco DOC 2016 ($24.99)
An excellent expression of Sicily's indigenous Carricante grape, this crisp white wine boasts vivacious citrus and pear flavors and a solid streak of minerality. Elegant and refreshing!
Alta Mora Etna Rosso DOC 2015 ($24.99)
if you're not familiar with the Sicilian grape Nerello Mascalese, this is an excellent introduction. I recently shared a bottle over dinner with a finicky friend and we were both impressed at how well the wine paired with my pasta and his veal. A lighter-bodied red, reminiscent of Pinot Noir, this easygoing wine has soft tannins and its red fruit flavors are revved up with hints of herbs and spice.
Alta Mora Feudo di Mezzo Etna Rosso DOC 2014 ($59.99)
Juicy, luscious, and earthy; this is a more intense expression of Nerello Mascalese crafted from 2 hectares of 80-year old vines. This limited-production beauty really captures the ethereal qualities of Etna's rich volcanic soils.
Alta Mora Guardiola Etna Rosso DOC 2014 ($59.99)
Talk about old vines, this silky red is produced from 2 hectares of 150-year old Nerello Mascalese vines. Savory, spicy, and earthy flavors wrap elegantly around a core of fresh & wild fruit.