New releases from Frank Cornelissen: single-vineyard Etna wines (Jamie Goode)

Frank Cornelissen was in town showing off his new wines. It’s a series of single-vineyard wines from his 25 hectares and 19 plots on Mount Etna. ‘It’s the focus of my work,’ he says, ‘but less than 10% of my production.’ He’s held off making these wines before, because his winemaking wasn’t good enough to show all the nuances. ‘It took me 10 years to vinify in a better way to make this quality,’ says Frank. ‘I still have some fine tuning to do, but this will take time and money. The last 5-10% of quality costs as much as the previous 90%.’

Risultati immagini per frank cornelissen

Frank uses epoxy-lined amphorae to make these wines, and his goal is to produce wines that allow us to taste the vineyard. He’s convinced that the future of Etna is parcellation. ‘It is a booming area to the professionals,’ he says, ‘but for the consumer it is not yet known. This will come.

Continue reading “New releases from Frank Cornelissen: single-vineyard Etna wines (Jamie Goode)”

A Lesser Known Wine of Sicily Benefits From Globalization (The NY Times)

Sicily is again the subject of a lesson of Eric Asimov’s Wine School; this time he speaks of Frappato on this New York Times’ article (here you can read it the complete post).

While it is true historically that Sicily’s best-known wines internationally were sweet, I would guess relatively few people in the last 20 years have seen or consumed a Sicilian sweet wine. A lot of bad ones are available, though, and the best known, Marsala, has unfortunately become a synonym for cheap “cooking wines.” Good Marsalas, like those from De Bartoli, can be exquisite, though expensive.

As for nero d’Avola, it became well known beyond Sicily in the 1990s, primarily because a few successful examples allowed Sicilian winemakers to focus on it rather than cabernet sauvignons and merlots designed to earn approval in the export market. While Sicilian nero d’Avolas back then won praise, many of the wines were heavy, out-of-balance or just plain bad. Now, the reputation is mixed for varietal nero d’Avola wines, though I have certainly had some excellent examples.

Nonetheless, nero d’Avola continues to be an important grape. In the southeast corner of Sicily around the city of Vittoria, it is often blended with frappato to produce what is now recognized as one of the island’s best red wines, Cerasuolo di Vittoria.

Did frappato and other newly anointed Sicilian red grapes like nerello mascalese simply pop into being through puffs of magic? Of course not.

They, along with nero d’Avola and many others, have long been grown on the island. For generations, they were made into bulk wines and shipped to northern Italy or France, where they were used to add color and power to local wines deemed too anemic on their own. They were also consumed locally in the communities where the grapes were grown.

Continue reading “A Lesser Known Wine of Sicily Benefits From Globalization (The NY Times)”

3 Frappatos to Drink Right Now (The New York Times)

A new article of the Eric Asimov’s Wine School on the New York Times about Sicilian wines: today he writes about Frappato.

The grape is frappato, and the wine comes from the Vittoria region of southeast Sicily. The wines of Mount Etna may be getting all the attention, but the wines of Vittoria deserve to be recognized.

The leading wine of the region is Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a blend of frappato and nero d’Avola. We will be tasting straight-up frappatos, which are a little lighter than Cerasuolos and can be enjoyed a little sooner.

Reds like frappato have gained popularity in recent years as consumers have come to appreciate wines that rely on freshness rather than power. Twenty-five years ago it was an entirely different story, as producers in Sicily were betting on international varieties like merlot and cabernet, but tastes have evolved. Nowadays, consumers are far more interested in indigenous grapes like frappato than those grown everywhere else in the world.

The three wines I recommend are:

COS Frappato Terre Siciliane 2015

Occhipinti Il Frappato Terre Siciliane 2015

Valle dell’Acate Il Frappato Vittoria 2016

As is so often the case, you may not be able to find these wines, which are made in limited quantities. It’s a small region, so the selection is not vast, but here are some alternatives: Tami, Manenti, Planeta, Vino Lauria, Bellus, Biscaris and Lamoresca, which is technically not within the confines of Vittoria but is close enough.I realize that looking for small-production wines can be frustrating, yet they are almost always worth seeking out. The alternative — recommending mass-produced bottles — results in either a limited number of subjects endlessly repeated or wines that generally do not show a genre’s potential.

Don’t worry about the vintage. Both 2015s and ’16s will be good choices.

You can read the article here: 3 Frappatos to Drink Right Now

Sicily: Dramatic landscapes, delicious wines (The Spectator)

Not only is Etna gaining global attention for the diversity of its wines from the indigenous varietals of Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, and Carricante, but it’s also receiving recognition because of the remarkable producers at work there. These are the stories behind the family-owned wineries that encircle this lava-strewn terrain crafted by earthquakes, eruptions and extraordinary people. The following wineries are places with heart and soul—that are worth visiting not only for their refined, finessed wines, but also for their timeless Sicilian charm.

Barone di Villagrande

Dating back to 1727, Barone di Villagrande is one of the oldest wineries in the region of Etna. Family run for 10 generations, Barone di Villagrande is open to the public (with reservations) for tours and tastings and has four guestrooms—not to mention an impressive infinity pool carved from lava stone. Set on the eastern slopes of Etna in the area of Milo, this region gets 10 times more rain than the rest of Sicily. But though autumns and winters are very wet, summers are very dry, and it is this interesting microclimate that allows for the creation of special wines, high in acidity and crisp minerality. ‘For me, the typical taste of Etna is the freshness,’ says Marco Nicolosi, who now runs this certified organic vineyard and wine resort with his family. Nowhere is this freshness more apparent than in Barone di Villagrande’s Etna Bianco DOC Superiore, which pairs especially well with Sicilian dishes made with the wild fennel that can be found growing everywhere. www.villagrande.it

Pietradolce

Though this winery and tasting room is still under construction for a few more months, Pietradolce—on the cooler and dryer northern slopes of Mount Etna, in Solicchiata—has some of the most interesting wines in the area and is certainly worth a visit once opened. Don’t let the ultra-modern new winery and tasting room fool you; these wines are made from old roots (this will become apparent on a short walk to the Eden-like, verdant and wild Barbagalli vineyard that looks completely forgotten by time). Don’t miss a taste of the creamy Sant’ Andrea Bianco made with white Carricante grapes (this is their passion-project with an annual production of only 1,800 bottles), or the dusty tannins and bright acidity of the Archineri Etna Rosso, made from red Nerello Mascalese. The gorgeous graphic on the wine’s labels—a majestic, fiery female figure—is a nod to the volcano, or ‘Mama Etna’. www.pietradolce.it

Tenuta di Fessina

Part-historic winery and part-boutique hotel, Tenuta di Fessina is completely magical. The property’s 17th-century buildings on the north-eastern slopes of Etna have been styled into stunning suites (seven in total), tasting rooms, barrel cellars, and a refurbished palmento (a traditional pressing room). In a curving amphitheatre layout, terraced vineyards surround the stylish property, the vines getting progressively older as you move farther away. Fessina’s vineyards are also lush with olive, fig, peach, almond, and cherry trees—a throwback to older, more rustic times when survival was the main concern of farmers. Sip the silky, fragrant, and finessed Laeneo, made from 100% local red Nerello Cappuccio grapes, which is very rare and original—even for this terroir—and reminds us that the power of Sicilian wine lies in its authentic diversity. www.tenutadifessina.com

If you like to read the whole article, you can find it here: Sicily: Dramatic landscapes, delicious wines

Etna’s Eruption (Wine Spectator)

Driving along the northern flanks of Sicily’s Mount Etna some weeks ago, I noticed how much the wine scene there has changed in the past decade.

I’d come for the 11th edition of Contrade dell’Etna, a wine event that’s part barrel tasting of the recent harvest and part Sicilian party.

Etna was nowhere 10 or 11 years ago,” said Andrea Franchetti, founder of Passopisciaro winery and creator of the event, which opened early morning on the grounds of an ornate 19th-century villa. “Now producers come from Northern Italy to see what’s going on, and some start making wine. Continue reading “Etna’s Eruption (Wine Spectator)”

From the Savory Side, the Salty Carricantes of Sicily (The New York Times)

Great lesson about Etna Biancos in the Wine School of Eric Asimov, on The New York Times:

To describe a wine as “salty” may not seem like much of a compliment. Yet it can be high praise indeed.

Some of the world’s greatest wines have a distinct saline tang. In France, where the vocabulary for describing wine dwarfs the capacity of English, to remark on a wine’s “salinité” is to toss a welcome though perhaps voguish verbal bouquet.

In my experience, few wines demonstrate this notion of salinity as well as the whites in the Etna Bianco category, made largely or entirely from carricante grapes grown in the foothills of Mount Etna in Sicily. They are marked by a distinctive savory tang that the winemakers will tell you is blown in by the salty wind off the Mediterranean.

Here at Wine School, where for the last month we have been drinking Etna Biancos, we prize savory wines. We also recognize that they are likely to be an acquired taste, especially for palates honed in the United States.

Continue reading “From the Savory Side, the Salty Carricantes of Sicily (The New York Times)”

Your Next Lesson: Etna Bianco

Once again Eric Asimov teaches about Sicilian wines to the American readers of The New York Times. Yesterday it has been published a nice introduction to Carricante and Etna Bianco. Here you can see part of this article:

In the last few years, Sicily and Mount Etna in particular have become well known for their red wines, particularly those made of the nerello mascalese grape, which we drank back in 2016.

This time, we will look at the white wines of Mount Etna, known as Etna Bianco. These wines are made largely, sometimes entirely, of carricante. As with so many Italian grapes, it was little known and little appreciated until the last 10 or 15 years, when winemakers began to show just how good carricante could be.

Continue reading “Your Next Lesson: Etna Bianco”

On An Ancient Sicilian Island, Heroic Farming Produces A Singular Sweet Wine (Forbes)

Forbes is one of the best known American business magazines; today it has been published an interesting interview to Antonio Rallo to speak about Ben Ryé.

Continue reading “On An Ancient Sicilian Island, Heroic Farming Produces A Singular Sweet Wine (Forbes)”

Scenario Siciliano: Baglio di Pianetto

the drunken cyclist

A few weeks ago, I started chronicling my press trip to Sicily, the almost mystical island off the toe of Italy. We started the week on the East side of the island, navigating around  Mount Etna, the active volcano that influences every aspect of life.

On Day Two of the trip, we headed to Caverna Etnea, the Firriato estate that is just a few kilometers from the volcano.

Day 3, we visited Pietradolce, and Day 4 took us to Baglio di Pianetto, the closest winery to Palermo, the capital of Sicily.

There were a few aspects to teaching High School that I did not enjoy: interactions with parents (particularly those whose children were not faring well in my class—rarely would they hold their offspring even a bit at fault), writing end of term comments on every student, and when prospective students would come to observe my class.

I…

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The 5 Most Read Stories of 2017 (Vini di Sicilia)

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Here are the most-read Vinidisicilia.blog stories published in 2017:

  1. 7 Bottles that Put Sicily on the Map of Trendy Wine Regions (Food & Wine)
  2. 6 Top Sicilian Wines You Need To Try
  3. Top20 Wines of Sicily 2016
  4. Top 10 Nero d’Avola 2017 according to Wine Searcher
  5. The Top10 of Etna Bianco (Wine Searcher)

If you like to review them of if you missed these posts, enjoy your reading!