Suertes del Marqués, Valle de la Orotava, Cruz Santa, 2018

Two and a half years ago, I described the fruit profile of this very wine as "black grapes sautéed over an outdoor grill." I think the description is still valid. Made of a grape grown only in Tenerife, Vijariego Negro, it did not yet come into its own back then. Now, it has. First of all, the nose has intertwined, thrilling nuances of minerals and herbs, creating a thumbprint all its own. It's the kind of wine where breaking down the descriptors doesn't really convey its idiosyncraticity. Addressing its structure at least conveys some of its character. The palate is just barely medium-bodied - but very persistent for all that - on the very, very red end of the spectrum, fruit that doesn’t impose itself so much as stealthily penetrate your consciousness: watermelons, pomegranates, sour cherries. The finish surprises because it doesn’t feel that long. Until you notice how the saline, earthy aftertaste lingers and keeps your taste buds happy, even after it lets its grip on them. 

Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Etna Bianco, Calderara Sottana, 2019

As usual, figuring out the hierarchy of Etna wines is a challenge, even when dealing with a winery like Terre Nere, a winery that publishes its internal classification of its wines. Especially with Terre Nere, in the case of the Calderara Sottana white. The basic classification unit in the Etan DOC is the contrada, which refers to a recognized sub-zone. It parallels the MGS system in Piedmont, rather than the Burgundian cru system. Terre Nere produces basic red, white and rose blends from various contradas, which you can think of as regional wines, and contrada wines, which they classify as either Premier Crus or Grand Crus. The confusion seeps in with this wine, which is a Premier Cru, unlike the Calderara Sottana red, which is a Grand Cru. The wine itself is high quality, no matter how you classify it. As is the case with any great, or simply interesting, wine, the fruits are the stage, not the actors. The nose shows yellow apples and, more prominently, vaguely smoky minerals and roasted nuts. The palate is perfectly ripe and clear, its acidity is seamlessly integrated and the finish fans out in dry, nutty flavors that linger almost forever.