The passion of a man, the uniqueness of an extreme terroir and the accumulated knowledge of generations of growers – these are the foundations of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, a project that pioneered the ascension of Etna to the highest spheres of fine wine.
Strength and charisma
As one of the mavericks who, in the 1980s, shook up the fine wine world by introducing a new approach to Barolo, Marco de Grazia needs little if any introduction. His charisma is matched by a relentless commitment to quality and for a strong understanding of winemaking as the art of translating terroir.
In 2000 Marco fell in love with the Etna, a wine region then largely unknown, and for the region’s indigenous varieties. With the same experience and determination that inspired the ‘Barolo Boys’, Grazia turned his attention to the north slope of the volcano, where he found an incredible potential to produce the finest expressions of Nerello Mascalese. And thus, Tenuta delle Terre Nere (‘black lands’) was born.
Tools and craftsmanship
The region’s dark soils, the winds kissed by the volcano’s breath and the wealth of old vineyards – some of which pre-phylloxeric ungrafted plots – captured Marco’s imagination and became the tools of a project that soon gained cult status. Tenuta delle Terre Nere had its inaugural vintage in 2002 with the release of a single- varietal Nerello Mascalese from Contrada Guardiola. The back label of this Etna DOC – the first to be presented in a Burgundy bottle – stated, unapologetically, that Etna should be seen as ‘the Burgundy of the Mediterranean’.
The Etna we know today, with its pure, expressive and highly collectible wines, owes much to the vision and courage of Marco de Grazia and to the message values embodied by Tenuta delle Terre Nere. Twenty years on, the Sicilian volcanic terroir is a symbol of the elegance and finesse captured in each Tenuta delle Terre Nere wine. Not least the Calderara Sottana Etna Rosso DOC 2019 which ranks in Decanter’s Wine of the Year 2022 list, with a 98-points nod from the judging panel. The single-vineyard wine is produced with fruit hailing from 80-year old vineyards planted on ancient soils whose formation dates back to the Elliptical, the volcano that eventually gave place to Etna. It has a deep focus, filigreed complexity and the trademark mineral tension that only Etna can deliver.
‘A great team, a delicate hand and a heightened sensibility,’ are, according to Marco, the secret and inner power of Tenuta delle Terre Nere. The goal is not perfection but, rather, ‘the ideal bond between what nature gives us and that which our experience and imagination suggest.’ The purity and vibrancy the Etna gives has bonded perfectly with the craftsmanship and restless creativity of Tenuta delle Terre Nere.