Nerello mascalese is a black grape variety that grows mainly on Etna, in the city of Catania, in the Torre Faro area, a fraction of the municipality of Messina and, to a lesser extent, in other parts of Sicily and Calabria. Niuriddu Mascalisi is also called in Sicilian dialect. Vinified in purity, it achieves extraordinary results and many awards all over the world but contributes for 80-100% to the blend of the famous Etna DOC red wine (the first DOC to be created in Sicily, in August 1968) and for the 45-60% to that of Faro DOC wine.
On Etna we can consider three large elective areas for the cultivation of the vine. The first is that between 400 and 900 meters above sea level, on the side facing east, the second is that between 400 and 800 meters on the side facing north; and the third between 600 and 1000 meters on the south- facing side.
Once certainly the wine was more rustic, loaded and offshoot vineyards were widespread, that is, as it was in ancient times, with low vines crawling on the ground, while today most of Etna’s winemakers lean towards the sapling system, more practical to manage: the one that also allows a good concentration of the strains.
Autochthonous of the slopes of Etna, the origin of Nerello Mascalese is lost in the mists of time. Nerello mascalese is mainly cultivated between 350 and 1000 a.s.l., in the traditional sapling form, even if the most current form of training is the spurred cordon.
The name Nerello is linked to the intense purplish-bluish color of its grapes, while “Mascalese” derives from the fact that for centuries it has been cultivated in the County of Mascali on soils made up mostly of volcanic sands. Its grape has a characteristic oblong shape, ripens very late and its harvest takes place between the second and third week of October. The wines produced with this vine have a high alcohol content (13-14 °) and are predisposed to a long aging and are characterized by great variability depending on the area of cultivation. In fact, Nerello Mascalese, like other noble grape varieties (Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir), has a remarkable sensitivity to the vintage and the terroir of origin.