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Noelia ricci

Emilia-Romagna, IT

As a spectator of the wines from Emilia Romagna for a few years, and an importer for the last couple, I can say with reasonable confidence that this region is going places in the world of fine wine. The fact that ER doesn’t have years of legacy as its famous Tuscan counterpart does is, I believe, a blessing in the digital age of 2016. Now the area is able to craft its own future, shining the light on both its unique microclimates and clone of Sangiovese, rather than raffia bottles and questionable DOCG classifications. That is precisely the aim of Tenuta Pandolfa with their Noelia Ricci label; wines driven by the vineyard. 

Around 4 years ago, the winery decided to convert the 8ha dedicated to Noelia Ricci to fully sustainable practices, first through integrated farming and most recently (just this year) a full schedule of biodynamic farming using only organic fertilisers and pest control. Winemaker at Tenuta Pandolfa, Francesco Bordini says of the conversion, 'We would love to be faster, but nature takes time and it is part of our seriousness go with it’. He tells us that the soil needs time to recover its fertility and its microbiological activity, not over weeks or months but over years. Thus, 2016 will see the first year of truly natural winemaking, where the wines in vintages preceding it were the incredible products of this gradual conversion. 

So incredible were they, that the Cru Sangiovese Godenza was one of only six Sangiovese di Romagna wines to win Tre Bicchieri in Gambero Rosso’s 2017 guide. That is reason enough to be taking the wines of Noelia Ricci seriously not only on the local stage, but also on the international one. Godenza took up the mantle from Il Sangiovese, effectively the junior red wine, which won it the year prior. A lot can be said for the validity of these awards, however most respected commentators do place the annual Vini d’Italia guide from Gambero Rosso at the top of the (growing) pile of Italian wine publications. It, along with the huge response we’ve had so far from these wines, is enough justification for us to really believe that Emilia Romagna’s wines are here to stay 


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2016 Fessina Etna Bianco 'Erse'

Etna, Sicily, IT

Erse is the blended Etna Bianco from Fessina, though this vintage carries a little less cattaratto than previously, meaning it's led by the Etnean native Carricante, and it shows. This is led by its minerals, all about the fresh acidity and the vibrant citrus fruits while belying its origins of Etna's Eastern part with a classic salty twang

90% Carricante, 10% Catarratto & Minella, from the Cavaliere, Caselle, Rinazzo, and Volpare vineyards in Milo (Eastern Etna), 900-1000m ASL, 9 months in stainless, 3 months in bottle before release, diam

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2015 Fessina Etna Bianco 'A'Puddara'

Etna, Sicily, IT

A’Puddara is a unique vineyard, not quite the highest of Fessina’s Carricante vineyards but the most sheltered, and not quite the oldest vines but the most productive. Year after year, it has produced mesmerising wines which compete with the best being made anywhere else in Italy. My notes about this vintage are much less about the fruit than those from the publications (more savoury, herbaceous and salty), however I did believe that the 2015 was all the better for it.

100% Carricante from the 100 y/o A’Puddara vineyard in Milo (Southern Etna), 900m ASL, 48 hours on skins, ferment and ageing in used French Oak botti for 12 months, bottle for 6 months before release, 6,000 bottles made, cork

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2015 Fessina Etna Rosato 'Erse'

Etna, Sicily, IT

Following somewhat of an obsession for rosé wines worldwide, it made sense that the replantings and new vineyards at Fessina would be used to craft a rosé from Etna. Although the DOC law states that solely red grapes are allowed, I have it on good authority that a good portion of the blend is Carricante (shh), and although this is completely unofficial, it does create a compelling reason as to why this should be the norm. This is not only a good Etna Rosato, it is one of the finest young Etna wines you will taste…

85% Nerello Mascalese, 15% Nerello Cappuccio from Rovitello (Northern Etna), 670m ASL, saignee, ferment and ageing in stainless steel for 6 months, bottle for 6 months before release, 3,200 bottles made, diam

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2015 Fessina Etna Rosso 'Erse'

Etna, Sicily, IT

A masterpiece of Etnean winemaking, one of those rare wines which is able to show power and elegance all wrapped up in a red-fruited box. This is Nerello Mascalese at its finest, its rawest (stainless steel only) and its most versatile. I think you could drink this with just about anything, or nothing at all

85% Nerello Mascalese, 15% Nerello Cappuccio from Rovitello (Northern Etna), 750m ASL, 10 days on skins, ferment and ageing in stainless steel for 12 months, bottle for 6 months before release, diam

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2011 Fessina Etna Rosso 'Il Musmeci'

Etna, Sicily, IT

2011 was a wonderful vintage for Etna. In many ways it reflected the vintages had in other parts of Italy but was punctuated with some excellent rainfall in September before the fruit was fully ripened. This was especially good for the Nerello Mascalese, which is harvested closer to the end of October, and it instilled freshness and life into the grapes which were ripening fairly quickly. Il Musmeci is not only the reserve wine of Tenuta di Fessina, but undoubtedly one of the most serious Etna Rosso wines produced by anyone in the area. It sits in a gorgeous middle ground (weight, perfume and structure-wise) between Barbaresco and Burgundy, with its own Etnean qualities layered on for good measure. I would happily show this in any tasting of the world’s great red wines

100% Nerello Mascalese from the 110 y/o Musmeci vineyard, Rovitello (Northern Etna), 790m ASL, 14 days on skins, ferment and ageing in French Oak barrique and Slavonian Botti for 18 months, bottle for 12 months before release, 10,000 bottles made, cork

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2014 Fessina Nero d'Avola 'Ero'

Noto, Sicily, IT

While recognition continues to grow for the volcano wines, Sicilian wine’s reputation has been largely built off the native Nero d’Avola. In complete contrast to Nerello Mascalese which prefers a long, slow growing season in the cooler, higher altitude parts, Nero d’Avola’s home is the coastal town of Avola and its surrounding denominations. The fruit for this pristine example comes from Fessina’s own vineyard in Val di Noto, on the South-Eastern Sicilian coast at next to no altitude, right by the sea. Dry grown bush vines in sparse, sandy soil give birth to fragrant, perfumed Nero d’Avola that reflects the elegance of the Etna reds of this estate but with a chubbier fruit weight and slipperier tannin profile. Regardless, this will change your attitude to Nero in the best way possible

100% Nero d’Avola from Noto (Southern Sicily), 40-50m ASL, 14 days on skins, ferment and ageing in stainless steel for 12 months, bottle for 6 months before release, diam