Barolo on the Volcano: 2005 Calabretta Nerello Mascalese Vigne Vecchie IGT

Posted by Joe Salamone

Barolo on the Volcano
2005 Calabretta
Nerello Mascalese Vigne Vecchie IGT

"I make my wine like Bartolo Mascarello!"
-Massimiliano Calabretta

That's the line frequently cited by the large cult following that Calabratta has earned. There's no doubt that it's helpful in understanding these wines. The Barolo comparison may be more apt than looking towards the majority of wines currently being made in Mount Etna where Calabretta is located.

While Etna has seen a huge influx of money from outside the region and country with plenty of cleaned up, modern winemaking, Calabretta's wines harken back to an old school traditionalism that we rarely glimpse these days. The wines undergo long macerations, are aged for long periods in large old botti and then see additional bottle aging at the winery.

Given all of this, it's really crazy how inexpensive the wines are.

Sicily's Mount Etna is one of the most extreme terroirs on the planet. Often the soil is jet black with volcanic remains, the elevations are high with cool nights and warm days and there's a treasure trove of old vines. Calabretta's vines range from 60-100 years old and sit on very steep terraced slopes.

Tasting a Calabretta slaps you with extremity. They're wildly complex and animated by an intensely dark minerality. The flavor profile traverses nearly every area imaginable from flower to earth to spice and dark red fruits. There's beautiful tension between mature depth and a feisty acid spine. The 2005 VV is one of the most impressive examples we've seen from Calabretta.

While it's easy to run with the traditional Barolo comparison given the similar methods used, Calabretta deserves to be placed within the larger context of profoundly individual Italian winemakers like Valentini and Bea -producers who turn out deeply moving, soulful and utterly singular wines. Calabretta grew tired of butting heads with officials about his wines not being "typical" of Etna and now they carry the less restrictive IGT designation.

Calabretta's 2005 is one of those wines that brims with such personality that it must be experienced. For what it lacks in technical "correctness" it more than makes up for in soul and intrigue. The fact that it can be had for such an affordable price only sweetens the deal.

To order, please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits

2005 Calabretta
Nerello Mascalese Vigne Vecchie IGT