2012 Graci Etna Rosso

"Alberto Graci's wines are loaded with character and personality. In particular, the Etna Bianco and Rosso deliver superb quality for the money in a part of Italy where making value-priced wines is rendered virtually impossible by the high farming costs imposed by terrains that are hard to work. Graci bottles without fining or filtration, which means the wines can sometimes appear cloudy, but that is purely cosmetic and no need for concern." -Wine Advocate #205, Feb 2013 "Graci, situated on the north slope of Mount Etna at Passopisciaro, is found in an area where viticulture dates back several thousand years. Their vineyards sit at an altitude between 600 and 1,000 meters above sea level. Planting density ranges from 6,000 to 10,000 vines per hectare. Many of the vines are still on original rootstock, ungrafted, having never been affected by the phylloxera scourge thanks to the unique nature of the volcanic soils. At Graci, young Alberto Aiello Graci remains steadfast in his respect for local traditions as well as the distinct nature of each vintage and only cultivates traditional varieties indigenous to Mount Etna: the red grapes Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, and white grapes Carricante and Catarratto. Intervention of any kind is extremely limited, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. They do not use herbicides in order to preserve the unique balance and vital energy of the soil. They do not use barriques, but only the big, upright, wooden casks known as tini and large, well-used wood barrels. Their sole objective is to reflect the personalities of their vineyards and the sublime differences between each and every harvest. Graci has three vineyard sites. Contrada Arcurìa in Passopisciaro sits at an altitude of between 600 and 660 meters and is a single 25-hectare parcel at the heart of the Etna DOC, in which 18 hectares are currently planted to vines. Nerello Mascalese occupies 15 hectares, Carricante 1.5, and Catarratto one hectare. In part of the vineyard, the vines are trained while the other part are the original ungrafted alberello style (bush-trained). Contrada Barbabecchi at Solicchiata sits at an altitude of between 1,000 and 1,100 meters and gives rise to austere, magisterial wines of great depth. A single-plot of 13 hectares that Alberto bought together with one of the charismatic poster-child of natural winemaking Frank Cornelisson, Graci’s parcel contains 2 hectares of ungrafted, pre-phylloxera Nerello Mascalese vines planted over 100 years ago. The remainder of the property is planted to olive and apple trees. At such high altitudes, grapes are harvested in November and require absolutely no treatments or fertilization, not even the common organic Bordeaux mixture. Finally, Contrada Feudo di Mezzo, a small but prized parcel of only about 1.5 hectares, was only just planted to vines in 2009. All of the vineyards are farmed according to the European laws for sustainable agriculture. All Graci's wines see spontaneous fermentation (no selected yeasts or inoculation) and are unfiltered." - Importer [+]