Do you have a favorite little known and under appreciated region in Europe– a region that could use more attention and love?
For April’s Wine Pairing Weekend event “Under the Radar European Wine Regions” we’re joining host Andrea at The Quirky Cork who writes: ‘Under the radar’ doesn’t have to mean ‘unknown’! It’s all about exploring regions that are new to us; that we think could use a little more love from others; a place on your wine travel bucket list; or a place you didn’t know makes wine!”
So what did we decide?
Sue and I debated various regions we wanted to sample and write about but with limited access to wine due to COVID and permission from our host, we settled on the wines from Europe’s most active volcano, Sicily’s explosive Etna which has been acting up the past few weeks!!
Because while most people are familiar with wines from Italy, and likely from Sicily, the wines of Mt Etna are something special: they grow in a very limited ring around the volcano where it is neither too hot or cold or dry but just right.
Plus we had ideas for a menu for wines from Mt Etna thanks to an event that Fred Swann shared.
- citrus salad
- garlic sautéed local fresh shrimp on a crostini drizzled with basil olive oil
- pork sugo with organic pasta
- sautéed chard with garlic
- cannoli stuffed with lemon zest ricotta and blueberries
- Tenuta di Fessina Etna Ersa Carricante
- 2016 Tenuta di Fessina Ersa Etna Rosso Nerello Mascalese
- 2017 Tenuta di Fessina “Laeneo” Nerello cappuccio
Tenuta di Fessina Etna Ersa Bianco
We paired this with citrus avocado salad and arancini.
Color: Very pale lemon, platinum, pale green hint,
Nose: Intriguing, fennel bulb, oxalis, citrus blossom, iron, earth
Palate: Distinct, slick mouthfeel, tart, clean slate in the long structured finish, fresh tart kiwi in flavor and in texture, We found that these wine wake up the palate and the gastronomic experience throughout the meal.
Pairing: Calamari with marinara, The lemon rind and lemon juice in the arancini ball is fantastic with the wine. The richness of the pine nuts in the salad and the citrus vinegarette was fantastic with the wine. We felt that crab cakes would also be a winner. Great pairing for our first course. Sue sautéed chard for a different course, but I had to try it with the wine, it was a surprisingly fantastic pairing. I told Sue we need to make a chard lasagne to go with the wine. Put a little sautéed chard over polenta with a bit of grilled sausage for a fantastic summer fair. We decided that this was the wine that would carry through to the end of the meal.
Sue did not sweeten the ricotta filling in the canoli very much so it went perfect with the wine. There was just 2T honey, 2T lemon juice, 1T fresh chopped mint, and 1 cup ricotta cheese topped with fresh blueberry and mint. All of it really enhanced the wine nicely.
Put this wine on a wines by the glass list at any restaurant, especially Italian or seafood restaurants! PLEASE!
2016 Tenuta di Fessina Ersa Etna Rosso Nerello Mascalese
We paired this wine with garlic sautéed shrimp on a crostini drizzled with basil olive oil and fresh mint.
Color: Very translucent. Garnet with a copper rim. light in density.
Nose: Very perfumey. At first there was a bit of funk, earthen funk, and now it is like perfume after blowing off the bit of funk. Roses and iris perfume, a bit of baby powder,
Palate: Very tart, bright and acidic, with big grippy tannins. Looks are totally deceiving with this wine. It does not look like a heavy hitting wine, but the tannins and acidity are very bold. Very young tart fruit, wild raspberry, red current. This wine yearns for food. Iron rich soil is noticeable on the finish. Orange oil orange wood, orange rind
Pairing: The wine loved the mint and basil of the dish. Sue had a last bite of the orange avocado salad from the last course and was amazed at how well the two went together. You do not usually think of a red wine going so well with sweet citrus, but it was a beautiful tango. We both imagined a cioppino would go so well with this wine.
2017 Tenuta di Fessina “Laeneo” Nerello cappuccio
We paired this with pork Sugo over organic pasta with a side of garlic sautéed chard.
Color: Ruby with a mauve rim. Catches the light nice, it is a pretty color. Medium density,
Nose: Loamy soil, forest floor, violets, mint, sage, pine nuts and basil, a bit of baking spice, cherry snuff, musk, like a clean horse. A walk in the forest after the rain. Great energy
Palate: Tart fresh fruit, red current, cranberry, sage or chapparal, medaterainian herbs, All of this acidity is making us very hungry.
Pairing: While Sue felt that she could sip on the wine for a bit, I yearned for food. And, we were not disappointed in how well this wine went together with the meal. The Sugo was perfect for the wine. It handled the spice bringing out beautiful fruit in the wine. The chard was also fabulous. It loved the earthy qualities while managing the acidity. All in all a perfect pairing.
Who else is writing about what:
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla posts From the Same Latitude as Other Pinot Noir Powerhouses: The 2017 Macedon Pinot Noir Matches Two Meaty Dinners
- Jeff at Food, Wine, Click! looks at Under the Radar in Croatia with Franc Arman Teran
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator looks at 3 Wines from Sicily’s Etna Volcano Paired with Pork Sugo #WinePW
- Kat from The Corkscrew Concierge takes us Beyond Wine – Kosovo’s Stone Castle Vineyards Provides Pride, Hope & Jobs
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass features Dry or dryish, Hungarian Furmint is having a moment
- Nicole at Somm’s Table explores Stranger Grapes with Eric Danch of Danch & Granger Selections
- Susannah from Avvinare shares Slovenia Wines from Brda, Not to Be Missed
- Terri from Our Good Life looks at Ancient Gamza in 2021: Best Wine with Burgers from Eastern Europe
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm has Georgia On My Mind
- Andrea from the Quirky Cork takes a Deep Dive into Hungarian Wine
#WinePW Under the radar European wine regions chat prompts:
- 11:00 am ET
- Q1 Welcome to the #WinePW Under the Radar European Wine Regions chat. From where are you tweeting? Introduce yourself, share a link to your blog. Visitors too!
- 11:05 am ET
- Q2 For this month’s #WinePW event we’re exploring European wine regions that could use some PR. From which region(s)/county(ies) did you find wine?
- 11:10am ET
- Q3 Did you know anything about this region before or had you visited? #WinePW
- 11:15am ET
- Q4 What was the biggest surprise you discovered while exploring this region? #WinePW
- 11:20 am ET
- Q5 Did your region have new-to-you-grapes (and did you get one?)? #WinePW
- 11:25 am ET
- Q6 Tell us something interesting about the wine or winery that you picked. Does anything stand out? #WinePW
- 11:30 am ET
- Q7 Did you pair your wines with food? How did the pairing go? Did you choose a recipe from the same region? Share a link to your blog if you wrote on the topic today. #WinePW
- 11:35am ET
- Q8 What are your thoughts or suggestions for introducing this region to your audience? #WinePW
- 11:40am ET
- Q9 What do you think is a good selling point for this region? What would help it step out from the shadows? #WinePW
- Q10 Post COVID, is this on your ‘must visit’ wine travel bucket list now? #WinePW
- Q11 Open comment time, any thoughts or discoveries you’d like to share? #WinePW
- Shoutout to the #WinePW bloggers who posted about under the radar European wine regions today. Cheers! @Culinary_Cam @foodwineclick @CorksConcierge @WendyKlik @dr_tsteffes @ArtPredator @linda_lbwcsw @sommstable @Vignetocomm
- 11:59 am
- Thanks for joining our #WinePW chat on under the radar European wine regions!. Join us next month as @WendyKlik takes us on an exploration of Middle East Food & Wine pairings!
As always I want a place at your table! You’re killing me. Thank you for joining this month. This was so interesting, especially reading about the Nerello Cappuccio. I don’t see a lot of Mt Etna wines full stop but it feels like a varietal of this grape is especially unusual?
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It was a great meal with interesting and unexpected pairings — like the shrimp with the red wines. Nerello Mascalese is much more common; I didn’t get a chance to learn exactly how rare it is.
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These are really lovely wines and it sounds like you found some delicious unexpected pairings!
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Yes! Fun meal for sure, and not too complicated!
I love that you chose Etna! I’ve had many Etna Rosso wines but have to say I’m appreciating the Etna Biancos more and more. And I really need to come to dinner!
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I hope you will one day! In the meantime, yes, Etna wines are explosively good!