Vino Lauria Nerello Mascalese

Two words: volcano wine.

On the slopes of Mount Etna, an active Volcano on Sicily’s east coast, grapevines grow right on the rocky cliffs—bursting out of the ash and lava-fueled soil.

From such a tumultuous terrain to grow grapes in (the threat of explosions is particularly unsettling), the area is producing incredible indigenous varieties, like Nero d’Avola, Zibibbo, and Frappato. All beautiful, expressive, distinctive grapes with a rich history.

Vino Lauria Nerello Mascalese
Image from @mettelehmann on Instagram

This particular vineyard is run by Vito Lauria, a Sicilian local who spent ages studying winemaking in Friuli before coming home to run his family’s traditional vineyard. He’s weaving in decades of tradition with new-school winemaking—thoughtful, organic production with historic, well-tended vines. 100% Sicilian grapes with a lot of energy and care.

The Nerello Mascelese is a curious, Sicily-specific grape. Literally: up until forty years ago, it was the only red grape in the area, producing smooth tannins, great freshness, and a specific volcano terroir found nowhere else in the world. Think red cherry with cinnamon, leather, and a tingly acidity—you can taste the earthiness and the lava of the volcano. That said, it’s light, tart, and super easy to chug. Think sour beer meets elegant pinot noir.

Considering how rare it is, it’s a pretty sweet deal that bottles sit around $20.

Kate Dingwall
Kate Dingwall
Kate Dingwall is a writer and editor, primarily covering the spirits and travel world. Her work has appeared in, Wine Enthusiast,, MAXIM Magazine, DuJour Magazine, Eater, VinePair, Culture Trip, Canada's 100 Best Restaurants, and a number of other publications, online and print. Outside of writing, she is a sommelier and an avid martini drinker.

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