Vineyards with smoking Mount Etna in the background


Recently I spent a few hours at lunch with a wonderful group of wine professionals at Locanda Nerello, a restaurant associated with Monaci delle Terre Nere boutique hotel on the northern slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy.

Pool and grounds at Monaci delle Terre Nere hotel


Sommelier Marco Torrisi was born in Florence and then lived in the U.K. for a dozen years while he worked at Le Gavroche Restaurant in London. He followed that with six years working on the QE2 ship, also involved with wine.

Marco Torrisi at the pool bar serving Guido Coffa wines

2. DISH.

Rigatoni served with cabbage, ricotta and walnuts.

Locanda Nerello sources food locally, including from their own 150 chickens. They also gather local Porcini mushrooms when in season. Because the island of Sicily has more than 20 varieties of wheat, the restaurant makes bread from two indigenous, low gluten flours. They also produce their own balsamic vinegar.

Rigatoni with cabbage, ricotta cheese and walnuts

3. WINE.

U’Ranaci wine from Guido Coffa, who owns the hotel and winery. The name comes from the Sicilian dialect and means Grenache. This 80/20 blend of Grenache and Nerello Mascalese has a crunchy taste with flavors that include salty licorice and brownies. Beautiful. Sommelier Torrisi mentioned pairing food and wine.

“The harmony of the wine goes well with our local food, which includes pasta, aubergines, Sicilian vegetable soup and even Mediterranean fish courses.”

A blend of Grenache and Nerello Mascalese


This rest house is located on a beautiful mountain slope on the grounds of what was once a monastery.

I’ve written two articles about Sicily and wines recently, including one about how Mount Etna avoided the ravages of the phylloxera aphid, which devastated vineyards throughout the world in the 19th century. The other article provides information on land values on Mount Etna.

Locanda Nerello restaurant
(Left to right) Wine media specialists: Marco Rossi, Adele Granieri, Salvatore Spatafora

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Lovely article. I worked in the importing/distribution business in the USA for a number of years and visited with the Tasha family of Regaleali on Mt Aetna. Wines from that area are exceptional. However, I never knew Grenache was grown there. Recently I have learned that Nero Mascalese is being fermented and bottled as a single varietal. It was always used as a blending grape as is catterato for white wines from Sicily. If I can find Nero Mascalese as a stand alone wine I will try it.

    1. Hi John – Thanks for the input. That region of Sicily is beautiful, and the hospitality scene is growing and dynamic. Single Nero Mascalese would be intriguing.

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