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The Gambino winery sits in the shadows of Mount Etna near Linguaglossa, its terraced vineyards sloping toward the ring of towns that circle the still active volcano. The high-altitude, tufarous soils are home to a range of indigenous varietals that thrive in other parts of the Etna DOC. Over lunch, with the amiable Fabio Gambino, I was able to sample several of the estate’s wines, of which the following trio stood out.
Cantari IGT …a rarity, Nerello Mascalese vinified in bianco. Pretty nose of mountain flowers and bushes, white fruits, and green apples. Light but concentrated flavors with a savory mineral quality. Juicy citrus acidity with a dusty coating.
Tifeo Etna Bianco DOC…Scents of citrus, apple, orange blossoms, even the ubiquitous Sicilian broom. Deeply fruity with a solid body. Stays fresh and mildly dry, evident but not overt acidity. The addition of Carricante gives it a fruit-driven aftertaste and aromatic complexity.
Alicante IGT…A mouthful of intense, warm flavors still showing their youthful tannins. The semi-modern style is full of red berries and hints of Mediterranean spices. The core of acidity keeps the concentrated fruit in balance. An intersting take on Grenache.
Some other noteworthy wines encountered along the strada del vino……
Duca di Salaparuta “Calanica” IGT…Inzolia buttressed by a small dose of Chardonnay, which rounds it off but does not blunt the zesty beam of acidity that keeps it lively. Perfumed and flowery waves of honeysuckle and fresh melons. A bracing salinity that adds a uniquely local feel.
Planeta “Plumbago” IGT…Nero d’Avola is not as dense as Noto, but cherries and red currants are backed by loamy earth and woodsmoke. Redolent of the island’s southern coast, enhanced by exotic spices. The smooth finish of darker berries and plums. Delicious.
Fondo Antico Grillo “Perlante” IGT…From the Trapani area, perhaps the best site for this varietal. Lighter than usual, smooth, rounded. Fresh and fruity aromas of melons and wildflowers. Crisp acidity finishes with more gusto than the start.
Milazzo “Terre della Baronia” IGT….A silky, flavorful blend of Nero d’Avola and Perricone. The smoky nose of red fruit and earth. Bursts of acidity keep it vigorous. Pleasant and well-articulated cherries and seasonal fruits. Versatile, structured, and food-friendly.
Cantine Florio “Terre Arse Vergine” Marsala….From a well-respected master of the style. Complex layers of apricots, liquory raisins, citrus, nuts, brown sugar. Picks up intense flavors of dried fig and honey. Not truly viscous, there are recurring hints of sweetness in this slightly dry and balanced wine.