The recent history of the Nerello Cappuccio grape variety
Over the last few years, finally, we have been able to notice enthusiastically a revenge of Nerello Cappuccio that, abandoning its role of “frequent companion” of Nerello Mascalese, is being vinified 100% separately, challenging the standards provided by the traditional winemaking codes. Some brave winemakers, more and more passionate, have started to enhance the true nature of this vine variety with a bit of innovative craziness.
Many particular epithets have been created for Nerello Cappuccio: Nerello Mantellato, Niuru Cappucciu, Niureddu Cappuccio, Mantiddatu Niuru, and many other “nicknames” lost in the history of this fine vine variety, whose first traces date back to 1839, in the area between Trecastagni and Viagrande. The same place where, since 1980, we have been cultivating a small and ancient family vineyard of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, vinified using only traditional artisanal methods and for private consumption.
The most curious people will love knowing more about the peculiar ampelographic characteristics of this vine variety. The vegetation is abundant and the vines are bush pruned. The buds are more globose and harmonic than the ones of Nerello Mascalese, whereas their leaves are unique: orbicular and trilobed, with other two barely shaped lobes, and a u-shaped sinus that sometimes presents a closed line and overlapping edges.
Bunches are not as slender as the ones of Mascalese: they are almost squat. Their classic pinecone shape makes them unique and resembles more a truncated cone pyramidal shape; sometimes it seems like a wing ready to fly away. Berries are ovoid and their skin is bright and of a uniform blue-black color, pruinose and very thick. If you close your eyes…you can feel the simple and unforgettable juiciness of their flesh, with its vaguely acid sensation that clashes with their overall pure sweetness. Compared to Nerello Mascalese, the production of Nerello Cappuccio is a bit slower, with a lower sugar content, but no less noble.
The shoots of Nerello Cappuccio are generally medium sized and measure about 12 cm. Their cross-section goes from circular to slightly elliptical and their surface presents different nuances, from the brightest hazelnut to a reddish brown, culminating in an explosion of darker and richer shades. The vigour is good, with markedly elongated shoots. The productivity is steady: the budding happens in March, whereas the ripening and the harvest in the second half of October.
The wine produced with Nerello Cappuccio
The wine produced with Nerello Cappuccio presents a bright ruby red with wonderful purple shades, united with a strong, tempting and fruity scent, with ethereal notes if aged. The scent blends and gives way to a full and pleasant taste that, with its accentuated but never excessive tannic sensations, gives us incredible emotions, culminating in a prestigious aromatic persistence.
It is an extraordinary vine variety. Its pure expression allows the production of wines that are ideally served with red meat dishes and salty and tasty Sicilian cheeses. It is a passionate and alive vine variety, where we can find all the love and the dedication, the joys and the sorrows, the hopes and the dreams of Etnean winegrowers and their wonderful land.