Sicilian wine adventures – Part 4; Tenuta di Fessina



Quick recap of the last post. Nerello Cappuccio doesn’t enjoy the same popularity as the Mascalese grape, something that can be seen in the local Etna DOC which states a minimum of 80% Mascalese, up to 20% of Cappuccio or 10% of other local varieties. However, the Mantiddatu Niuru, the Sicilian name for the Cappuccio grape, deserves more than 20 per cents attention, so do your share to track down wines such as the Laeneo from Tenuta di Fessina.

Cappuccio by the way, comes from the mantle shaped leaves the Nerello possesses. Origin is unknown when it comes to both Nerello Mascalese and Cappuccio. Greece has been pointed out as a potential derivation but that stops at speculations. However, there is no doubt we’re talking about two different grapes with some similarities but also differing poliphenolic characters. The reason for blending the grapes seems to be due to a fine match of flavors and aromatics. Perhaps the fact they harvest around the same time helps as well?

Nerello ripens late – and taking the high-altitude sites into consideration – that means mid-October and sometimes even first in November. Thin skin, plenty of acidity and generous amounts of aromas. Does it sound like a Pinot?

Back to Tenuta di Fessina. Founded in 2007 and owned by Silvia Maestrelli and her her husband Roberto Silva together with Federico Curtaz. The true Italian wine geeks might recognize Curtaz. He worked for Angelo Gaja before starting his own consultant company. Then, in 2007, Fessina was bought and as for so many of us, the Nerello vines has been a true discovery for him.

Silvia is also a winemaker having her background in Tuscany – at Villa Petriolo.

Besides the few vines of Nerello Cappuccio, Fessina are in possession of some Nerello Mascalese’s averaging 80 years of age. There’s also Nero d’Avola, Chardonnay and Carricante. There’s 8,000 bottles of the Cru Nerello – Musmeci. Worth finding. Oh yes, for those who like glasses there are three of them in the Gambero Rosso.


Tasting note on the 2009 Erse, Tenuta di Fessina, 90-91 p

A blend of Mascalese and Cappuccio. There are 16,000 bottles of this one. Vines planted back in 1950 with an density of 8,000 vines/hectare. Yield is 80 q/ha. Fermentation in stainless steel. Spontaneous malo fermentation.

This is absolutely gorgeous! Just as with Pinot you’re amazed such a pale wine can deliver tonnes of seducing aromas. It’s floral and oozing of wet rocks, red cherries and oriental spices. Young, full of life and yet great harmony already. No doubt this is high-altitude wine.

On the palate it’s lots of red berries, licorice, wet rocks, spices and tickling acidity. The tannins are more distinct in the Erse compared to Laeneo; a bit green but that just adds excitement and suits the wine. Lots of fruit. Lots of. Pure elegance on the finish. Where have you been all my wine drinking life beautiful?

Bought here at EUR 14,95. Serve the wine a bit chilled, like a Pinot, and preferably with fat dishes, lots of pancetta or just enjoy it on its own.

Check out the website/blog run by Silvia.

Erse, il richiamo del sorgere del sole e della ruggiada all’Alba. L’azzurro della goce della rugiada. L’azzurro del cielo dell’ Etna.