One of the reasons French Champagne is so expensive, is that it is terribly labor intensive. An average non-vintage bottle usually costs around $40 and for something special, I would say they start at $75. At half the price of an entry level Champagne, you can try this vintage sparkling wine made from hand harvested fruit grown near the often-erupting Mount Etna.
The Scammacca del Murgo family has been farming close to Mount Etna since about 1860. This regularly active volcano has destroyed the land and covered the family home in ash multiple times. Back then, they were farming mostly olive and fruit trees producing oil and jams. In 1981, Baron Emanuele Scammacca del Murgo took over the family farm with the intention of making great wine from this fertile yet frustrating terroir. The Baron was a diplomat and served as Italy's ambassador to the Vatican, Brussels and Moscow among other positions. He moved back to his family’s land and with the help of his eight sons, are now making incredible values from Sicily. Their first vintage of Etna Rosso was in 1982 but more importantly they were the first estate in Sicily to bottle a sparkling wine using the "methode champenoise" with 100% Nerello Mascalese in 1990. We also carry their red and white wines which, at $15.99 a bottle, are terrific values in their own right.
Nerello Mascalese is an indigenous varietal to Sicily that thrives on the island’s high-altitude vineyards and volcanic soils. The grapes for this sparkling Brut are hand-harvested from Santa Venerina, which has soils that are mostly decomposed lava, these soils are porous and mineral-rich and you will taste some of that in the wines. Mount Etna is one of the few wine regions in the world that still has pre-phylloxera vines; they joke that some of their vines are older than the family itself. The grapes are gently pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Secondary fermentation, like in Champagne, is done in the bottle.
No need for a fancy celebration for this wine, just pop one open and enjoy with oysters, fish, chicken or all by itself. I have drank through all of my 2017’s and the 2018 is showing great right now.
92 Points – Wine Enthusiast
"Crisp and savory, this dry sparkler has aromas of chamomile, bread dough, Mediterranean scrub and citrus. Tangy and elegantly sparkling, the racy palate delivers energy and tension, featuring Meyer lemon, yellow apple, white pepper and saline mineral notes framed with vibrant acidity." - Kerin O’Keefe
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