Mt. Etna is one of the world’s most unique wine terroirs, as we discovered on our trip there for our report on The Wines of Sicily. In this article, we review the current releases of one the most prominent producers, Cottanera. Located on Mt. Etna’s northern slope in Castiglione di Sicilia, Cottanera has 65 hectares of Nerello Mascalese, Carricante and other indigenous grape varieties planted on lava alluvial and clay soils at 700+ meters elevation. Given their impressive quality, the wines are all very reasonably priced (under $30).
Cottanera was founded by Francesco Cambria in 1962, who planted vines on the 100 ha estate and sold the grapes. In 1982 Francesco’s son Gugliemo decided to build a winery to produce their own wine, selling it in bulk. In the mid-1990s the family decided to put a focus on producing premium wines and launched the Cottanera label. Today Cottanera is one of the largest vineyards on Etna.
The US Importer is Indigenous Selections.
Cottanera 2019 Barbazzale Bianco Sicilia 91 Medium yellow straw. Shows notes of ripe lemon, lemon shavings, and lemon curd on the nose. Broad with good depth and lingering rich flavors that mirror the nose with good balancing acidity and a viscous persistence at the back of the palate. Predominantly made of Catarratto from the Barbazzale contrada with a dash of Viogner. 13% alc
Cottanera 2018 Bianco Etna 93 Medium yellow straw with an olive tinge. Shows a complex nose of cherimoya, lemon pith and fresh herbs that are picked up and amplified with subtle citrus notes on a lanolin like, slippery textured palate. Finishes with excellent persistence and lingering rich lemon/mineral extract. Made of 100% Carricante from estate vineyards at 750m elevation, fermented in stainless steel and aged sur lie for 6 months. 12.5% alc.
Cottanera 2019 Rosato Etna 92 Light pink with an apricot tinge. Vibrant scents of peach flowers, yellow raspberry, and mandarin zest with a mineral edge. This superbly balanced, medium weight rosé is crisp and incisive on the attack with tangerine citrus, pomegranate and a hint of apricot, finishing with a complex and persistent aftertaste. 100% Nerello Mascalese. 13% alc.
Cottanera 2018 Rosso Diciassettesalme Etna 93 Medium ruby red. Intriguing scents of red raspberry, cherry and hints of wet earth on the nose. The palate is refined with excellent freshness and purity, mirroring the bouquet with additional notes of spices and tobacco leaf. Finishes long and precise with mineral nuances. Sourced from a 700 m high vineyard in the Diciassettesalme contrada. Matured 8 months in large oak casks. 14% alc.