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Cantina Calabretta was founded in 1900 and since then the Calabretta family, third and fourth generation Massimo and Massimiliano Calabretta running things these days, have been carrying on the centuries old winemaking traditions that made Etna’s wines so sought after. For decades, the family sold the wine in barrel to private clients who came from all over Italy to get these wines but in 1997 Massimo and his son starting bottling the best stuff under the Calabretta label.
What makes Calabretta special is not just the 70-80 year old ungrafted Nerello Mascalese vines on nutrient poor black volcanic soil, everybody up here has those, well maybe not quite as old or ingrafted. It's the ultra traditional winemaking methods which are remarkably similar to what every great producer in Barolo, Barbaresco and Montalcino are doing that sets these wines apart. Namely, long 60-90 day fermentations on natural yeasts, extended barrel aging, 7 years here, in giant old oak botti and another three years aging in bottle in the ancient cellars before finally releasing to the market. Nobody else does that here anymore. Of course sustainable, chemical free farming is a given with producers like this (it always starts with top quality materia prima).
The results are remarkable. While Etna is often referred to as the Burgundy of the Mediterranean, an apt comparison with most of the best wine here, this is rather the tarry, truffly, richly textured wine you’d expect from great traditional Nebbiolo. Flowers, tobacco and tar on the nose, deep red fruit flavors and a velvety texture with a very long finish. One of the truly great values in Italian wine Very little available.