NERELLO MASCALESE

The place of origin of this black-berry cultivar, historically the most widely spread in the Etnean is certainly the Mascali plain, on the Etna slopes where this vine has been cultivated for at least four centuries. Today, Nerello Mascalese of Etna is a group of very heterogeneous clonal populations. "Niureddu mascalisi" or "Niureddu", as Etnean wine-growers call it, is a vine with great vegetative and productive strength. On Etna the great vigor of Nerello Mascalese is highly affected by the vintage, cultivation area, raising system, density and cultural practices used. This involves considerable qualitative variability of grapes at ripening, particularly on some poliphenolic components.

As for quality, experience has widely proved that the best raising system for Nerello Mascalese is the traditional and very old one: grown as free standing bush (2-3 branches per tree with a spur bearing two buds) with high vine density per hectare (6,000/9,000 vine stocks per hectare, with vine row 1x1 or 1.25x1.25).

In the Etnean area, it is easy to find old or very old vineyards of Nerello Mascalese where it is curious to note the lack of a geometric vine row. This is because, on Etna, vine propagation frequently was and, partly still is, being made through offshot (purpania) namely the vine bine is put in the soil to restore the proximal failure: therefore in the old vineyards grown as free standing bush there are many root stock vines.

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