Emanuele Scammacca Barone del Murgo enjoyed a long, important career as a diplomat, serving as Italian Ambassador to Brussels and Moscow, as well as Assistant Secretary of the Estate of Foreign Affairs for Italy. His family had been cultivating wine and olives on the slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily's still active volcano, since 1850. While production was originally intended for local consumption only (including friends and family), in 1981, Emanuele decided it was time to get more serious about recognizing the family's excellent terroir; with the help of his eight sons, he set out to transform the ancient property into a modern wine estate. They initially focused their efforts on Nerello Mascalese, and bottled their first Etna Rosso in 1982. Next they got into the sparkling wine business, releasing their first brut in 1990 followed by a brut Rosé of Nerello Mascalese which we were thrilled to acquire for this month’s Sparkling club! Today, the estate produces over a dozen different wines from their 60 acres of sustainably farmed and terraced vines that range in altitude between 1600-2000 feet above sea level.
This 2015 brut is 100% Nerello Mascalese that receives its pale antique pink color from a direct pressing of the skins before it is fermented in stainless steel tank for 8 months. Following the ‘Metodo Classico’ or ‘Méthode Champenoise’, the wine undergoes secondary fermentation in bottle and is aged for 3 years before it is disgorged with a dosage of less than 5 grams per liter. In Champagne standards, this wine would be considered ‘Extra Brut’ or drier than a ‘Brut’, yet it is not lacking in aromatics or personality whatsoever! The nose is quite expressive with notes of red apple skin, pomegranate, wild strawberry and yellow cherry, suggesting that the wine might be a fruity style. However, considering the fruit was sourced from Mt. Etna’s volcanic soil, it’s not surprising to find more austere flavors on the palate including wet limestone, chalk, under-ripe strawberry and white pepper in addition to a sweeter, candied fennel note. Fairly light in body, the acidity is bracing and cleansing, leaving only a pristine mineral note on the finish.