Nerello Mascalese wine grape

Nerello Mascalese
The firmer and longer-lived of the two Nerellos native to northeastern Sicily, Nerello Mascalese is named after the commune of Mascali to the east of Mount Etna, where it presumably originated.  There is a little in mainland Calabria, but its stronghold is Mount Etna (DOC Etna Rosso) and nearby Messina (DOC Faro) where it is the dominant grape, though usually blended with a little Nerello Cappuccio.  On Etna an 80/20 blend is typical.
Although Nerello means “little black”, Mascalese is quite a pale- and thin-skinned variety, although moderately tannic.  It ripens very late – sometimes into early November in the highest vineyards – yielding light-coloured wines with very fresh acidity and moderate alcohol.  Aromatic and red-fruited, they are approachable young but can age very well.  It has been likened both to Burgundy’s Pinot Noir and to the Nebbiolo of Piedmont – the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco – and is prized by winemakers for its ability to reflect the terroir in which it is grown.

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