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Stylized image of Palmento Costanzo Etna Rosso Mofete 2020

Reclaimed Volcanic Winery

Today it is widely known that back in the 1950s, the Italian government forced many of the inhabitants of Matera out of their homes and into nearby public housing. Why? Because the homes – which had been inhabited for centuries – were essentially caves, and deemed a public health risk, or even a “shame” as many politicians put it. It is only in recent years that the mistake has been acknowledged, and many of these historic homes have reclaimed and revitalized. A trip to Matera is well worth it!

What is less known is that, in Sicily, something very similar happened at the same time, but in the world of wine. On Mount Etna, wine-makers carved caves into the sides of the volcano, and used the space to make wine, often in vats carved out of the volcanic rock. But again, the government disapproved, and in the 1960s these wineries – called Palmentos – were shut down.

In 2010, the Costanza family bought a Palmento and reclaimed it as a winery. It’s located on the northern side of Mt. Etna, where local grape varieties – often from very old vines that also required restoration – produced structured, nervy wines that are often compared to great Nebbiolos or Taurasis.

Palmento Costanza’s “Mofete” is a blend of two of these grapes: 80% Nerello Mascalese (the noble grape of the region) and 20% Nerello Cappuccio. The name Mofete means “it erupts”, which is probably meant to be a reference to the volcanic soils and vineyards that produce their wines, but it could also refer to the flavors that flow so easily from the glass: gushing red fruit, plus a hint of coffee and baking spices.

We are so lucky that Italians are reclaiming the past to produce beautiful wines like this:

Palmento Costanzo Etna Rosso Mofete 2020 - $25.99
"The 2020 Etna Rosso Mofete reaches up from the glass with a vivid note of hard red candies, licorice and sweet spice. This is soft and soothing on the palate, with juicy acidity that motivates its crisp wild berry fruits. It finishes with medium length yet fresh. The 2020 leaves a slightly bitter tinge that tugs at the cheek. The Etna Rosso Mofete aims to please. 90pts"-Eric Guido, Vinous


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