Calabretta’s vineyards are located nearly a half mile (300 to 900 meters) above sea level in the black volcanic soils of Etna’s north slope, between Randazzo and Castiglione di Sicilia. There, Calabretta farms roughly seven hectares of mostly 70- to 80-year-old vines—many of them ungrafted—on stepped terraces supported by stone walls. The soils are a combination of black volcanic ash and sand which are fine and almost silty, with lots of lava rocks and good drainage. The wine is a blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio. The Etna Rosso is aged in big botti for 6-7 years before it is bottled. The vineyards are organically farmed.
There is an old Nebbiolo-like profile to the wines. The aromas are steeped in dried cherries, tar, licorice, and hints of ashy/volcanic soil tones. Given the high elevation and big diurnal temperature shifts (they have ski slopes on Etna as well!), the wines retain a freshness and delineation that recalls a mature Barolo.
Historically, the family had sold its wine in sfuso or in barrel to restaurants and to private customers, many of whom travelled long distances to pick up their wine. But in 1997, third- and fourth-generation father and son Massimo and Massimiliano Calabretta decided to bottle their best wine under their own label to ensure the winemaking traditions of their family and Etna would not be lost.