The name of this red grape comes from the Italian word “cappuccio”, meaning “cap”, which describes the characteristic busy canopy shading the grape bunches. Nerello Cappuccio grows most abundantly in northeastern Sicily, in areas near Catania and Messina, but it can also be found in Calabria, a region on the mainland of Italy. It is the eighteenth most produced grape in Sicily.
These round, dark-blue berries are known for good vigor and production levels, but they are also susceptible to spring frost and coulure, a failure of grapes to fully develop due to poor weather conditions. The deep hue of the berries is a result of large amounts of malvin and acylated anthocyanin, making for wines which are dark red and long-lasting in color.
Monovarietal wines have been made from this grape for about ten years, but many argue its tannins are not strong enough to stand alone. Nerello Cappuccio is often blended with Nerello Mascalese, adding color and softening the acidity. Such blends include Etna Rosso DOC (up to 20%) and Faro DOC (15-30%), known for aromas of vanilla, ripe red cherry, minerals and coffee.