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Murgo, Etna RossoSicily, Italy 2018 (750mL)  |  FREE Shipping on any 6 bottles!

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Murgo, Etna Rosso Sicily, Italy 2018 (750mL)

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Not to get too self-congratulatory here, but look back at the last few weeks of SommSelect offers and it’s plain to see: It’s been an embarrassment of riches in the $20-$25 range. Today, we have what may be the signature wine of this coveted category: Murgo’s utterly irresistible Etna Rosso.

To be able to drink this well at $24 is what SommSelect is all about, and as longtime subscribers know, Murgo is a first-ballot hall-of-famer. On Sicily’s Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, the Scammacca del Murgo family has been farming vines on the volcano for more than 100 years, so they’ve managed to keep prices low in a zone whose increasingly trendy wines get more expensive each year. Today’s 2018 is, once again, spot-on in terms of style and scale, perfectly encapsulating everything that makes Etna, and the Nerello Mascalese grape, so special. We don’t ever offer a wine without tasting it first, but with this wine—and really any wine from Murgo, frankly—we could confidently do so if we so chose. And while the last few weeks have been a $20-$25 bonanza, it’s imperative that you find some room for some Murgo—the granddaddy of them all!

Those of you already familiar with Murgo know how they manage to deliver such unparalleled value across the whole of their lineup: longevity. Baron Emanuele Scammaca del Murgo, a longtime Italian diplomat, decided to re-dedicate his family’s Etna property to wine production back in 1981, a time when Etna wine was little talked-about—most of what was produced from the ancient vineyards here was sold to cooperatives for bulk wine. Nevertheless, Murgo is one of the originals here, farming 25 hectares of vineyards in and around Zafferana Etnea, on the eastern slopes of Etna, which is home to fewer producers than the more densely planted north slope. The Murgo family’s diverse production also includes excellent Champagne-method sparklers from the same Nerello Mascalese grape that drives today’s bright and spicy red.

Still scattered with abandoned vineyards and lava flows, the classic Etna image is one of gnarled, old, bush-trained vines known as alberelli (‘little trees’). Vineyard altitudes on the volcano reach up to 1,000 meters, making it some of the highest-elevation viticulture in Europe and the only ‘cool’ region of Sicily, which otherwise has more in common with North Africa than much of mainland Italy when it comes to climate. The dark, ashy, mineral-rich volcanic soils—remnants of past lava flows—lend palpable minerality to the wines, and Nerello Mascalese has really begun to distinguish itself as a “noble” variety, one that is often compared to Pinot Noir. By law, it represents a minimum of 80% of any wine carrying the Etna Rosso DOC designation, typically buttressed by the color-enhancing Nerello Cappuccio. Murgo goes with 100% Mascalese for its Etna Rosso, which means it’s always on the more pale and perfumed end of the spectrum. And it’s precisely the aromatic, Pinot Noir-like personality of Nerello Mascalese that has drawn so much attention to Etna; this is not an inky, syrupy red fitting the (admittedly outdated) “southern Italian” stereotype, but rather a genuine cool-climate red of finesse and nerve.

Sourced from 30+-year-old vines and vinified and aged entirely in stainless steel tanks, the 2018 Etna Rosso from Murgo is like an old, dear friend come to visit. In the glass, it’s a deep garnet red moving to pink at the rim, with inviting aromas of wild strawberries, red currant, blood orange, dried rose petals, leather, flint, and a hint of smoke. Medium-bodied and alternately lush and crunchy on the palate, it is the ultimate Italian vino quotidiano (“daily drinker”). Decant it about 30 minutes before serving in Burgundy stems and keep it nice and cool—55 degrees or even a little less—to maximize its fruit expression. If tasting this wine blind, one might be tempted to think was Pinot Noir from some cool-climate terroir like the Jura or the Loire, but its herbal, saline Mediterranean qualities pull you south. Having been on a homemade pizza kick recently, I’m putting this forth as an ideal “pizza wine,” although its pairing affinities are many. Get some on the table a.s.a.p.!


Murgo, Etna Rosso Sicily, Italy 2018 - SommSelect

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  • CountryItaly
  • RegionSicily
  • Sub-RegionEtna DOC
  • SoilVolcanic Pumice & Sand
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendNerello Mascalese 100%
  • Alcohol13%
  • OakNone
  • Service Temp.55° F
  • GlasswareBurgundy Stem
  • DrinkNow-2022
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingSicilian-style Pizza

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionSicily
  • Sub-RegionEtna DOC
  • SoilVolcanic Pumice & Sand
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendNerello Mascalese 100%
  • Alcohol13%
  • OakNone
  • Temp.Serve at 55° F
  • GlasswareBurgundy Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2022
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingSicilian-style Pizza

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