Eduardo Torres Acosta - Versante Nord Rosso IGT Terre Siciliane 2017
80% Nerello Mascalese, 20% Other red + white native varieties
From the importer-
Versante Nord comes from two parcels--Pietramarina and Crasa--totalling 1.5 hectares on the cooler, north-facing side of Mt. Etna (hence the wine's name Versante Nord) at an elevation ranging from 550 to 750 meters. Sandy, volcanic-ash-rich soils lie over a sedimentary mother rock. The vines average 45-50 years old, with the oldest of about 80 years planted albarello-style, which require even more careful hand-tending and yield less but more concentrated fruit. In true traditional style, the vineyards are mixed plantings of various local white and reds. The reds include Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Alicante and Garnacha; the whites include Minnella, Catarratto, Grecanico and Inzolia.
The juice is fermented spontaneously with some whole clusters and macerates with the skins for 15 days in cement tank without temperature control; the wine is aged 16 months in 7.5-hectoliter Slavonian oak botti. Minimal sulfur is used: from none to 2-3 mg at harvest and only 1 mg. at bottling.
Eduardo Torres first began working with vines in his native Canary Islands, Spain, where his postman father had a small plot of them at home on Tenerife. In 2012 Eduardo island-hopped to Sicily to intern with Arianna Occhipinti at her eponymous winery. Following this formative experience, he got his first winemaking job at Passopisciaro, one of the pioneering Mt. Etna producers of the last decade.
Etna is still a rather remote, insular Sicilian region sparsely populated with independent-yet-traditional-minded farmers; though a complete outsider, Eduardo managed to get his hands on a few small parcels of vines to rent and farm and bottled his first commercial vintage in 2014--made, as his wines still are, two hours away in Vittoria at Occhipinti. Mainly for this reason, his wines cannot be classified as Etna DOC, which requires vinification within the Etna zone: thus they bear the "IGT Terre Siciliane" designation.
Eduardo is wholly committed to organic farming and doing all work by hand, as well as to natural, i.e. minimally manipulative, winemaking. His focus is the classic local black grapes, the noble Nerello Mascalese and its usual vineyard companions like Nerello Cappuccio, mixed into the plantings of Mascalese typically. Eduardo is particularly interested in the highest-elevation sites on the north-facing slope of Etna, which have the classic volcanic soils but even cooler temperatures and lower yields. The DOC only includes vines between 600-800 meters in altitude; the grapes for his Pirrera bottling come from 850 meters and thus are not DOC-classified (fo rthe the elevation and the non-local vinification). His production remains miniscule. Starting in the 2016 vintage, there is a also a white wine, from a blend of local varietals.