Paolo Calì, “attacco” alla Doc Sicilia: “Hanno preso possesso del Grillo e del Nero d’Avola” (Cronache di Gusto)

(Paolo Calì)

Paolo Calì è un produttore di vini della zona di Vittoria, in provincia di Ragusa, culla del Frappato e del suo Cerasuolo.

Qui c’è l’unica Docg della Sicilia. E con Calì si parla di Doc e consorzio. Lui, che in questi anni non le ha certo mandate a dire al consorzio della Doc Sicilia, si è scagliato contro il prezzo “ridicolo” di vendita delle uve Grillo, pagate a 35 centesimi al chilo. “Ma di cosa stiamo parlando – dice il produttore – Questo è l’esempio perfetto del grande successo della Doc Sicilia. Adesso nessun produttore vuole raccogliere il Grillo a mano, ma solo con vendemmiatrici a causa dei costi improponibili della vendemmia manuale. Il rischio è di portare a casa porcherie, perché la maggior parte dei vigneti dei piccoli produttori sono semi abbandonati e quindi si raccoglierebbe seconda e terza fioritura. La viticoltura della Doc è morta e i viticoltori vogliono espiantare e vendere i diritti“. Continua a leggere “Paolo Calì, “attacco” alla Doc Sicilia: “Hanno preso possesso del Grillo e del Nero d’Avola” (Cronache di Gusto)”

Sicilian Wine: Ecologically Friendly, Totally Awesome (Paste)

The boat putters over the shallow lagoons, past some quaintly gloomy-looking salt pans and away from the Sergio Leone mise en scene that is Marsala, pausing to idle stutteringly on the edge of the nearby island of San Pantaleo and what was once the city of Mozia. There’s an archaeological site at the edge of the water. The guy steering the boat says they’re not sure exactly what the building’s purpose had been, but that it was definitely Phoenician and probably from the 8th century BCE. Behind the ruin, a gridded expanse of foliage stretches into the distance-they’re growing Grillo, one of the signature varietals of Sicily, a yellow grape historically used to make the oxidative fortified wine called Marsala, and increasingly in vogue today as a youthful, aromatic white. Continua a leggere “Sicilian Wine: Ecologically Friendly, Totally Awesome (Paste)”

Dal Cerasuolo al Frappato DOCG? Intervista a Massimo Maggio (Wine in Sicily)

Unico vino siciliano a godere della denominazione di origine controllata e garantita, DOCG, riconosciuto con decreto ministeriale del 13 settembre 2005, il Cerasuolo di Vittoria prende il nome dalla tonalità di rosso – un rosso ciliegia brillante – e dalla città iblea di Vittoria, fondata nel 1606 dalla contessa di Modica, Vittoria Colonna Henriquez. In tal modo, volle incentivare l’urbanizzazione dei luoghi, la strategia consistette nel regalare un ettaro di terreno ai primi 75 coloni a condizione che ne coltivassero un altro a vigneto.

Il disciplinare attuale, in breve, fissa la produzione – dalla raccolta, all’imbottigliamento, sino all’affinamento – nel sud-est siciliano, in alcuni comuni ricadenti tra le province di Ragusa, Caltanissetta e Catania per una estensione di circa 124.500 ettari complessivi. Solo due le varietà ammesse: il Nero d’Avola in una quota compresa tra il 50% e il 70%, e il Frappato tra il 30% e il 50%. Continua a leggere “Dal Cerasuolo al Frappato DOCG? Intervista a Massimo Maggio (Wine in Sicily)”

NOT, cronache di Vini Franchi (Identità Golose)

Lo Sturm und Drang dei vignaioli indipendenti ha invaso i Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa a Palermo – e in generale tutta la città con una serie di cene, aperitivi, concerti, degustazioni, spettacoli, per tutto lo scorso fine settimana. Prima fiera di vini naturali in Sicilia, la Rassegna dei vini franchi NOT è stata organizzata da Franco Virga e Stefania Milano – che attraverso la loro società Good Companygestiscono 4 insegne di successo della realtà palermitana Aja MolaBuattaGagini e Bocum–  e da Manuela La Iacona e Giovanni Gagliardi di Gagliardi Associati. Oltre 100 produttori, 500 etichette da tutta Italia e dall’estero con l’obiettivo di fare divulgazione: diffondere e spiegare questo nuovo modo di fare e bere vino e la filosofia produttiva che vi sta dietro.

Entrare in una rassegna di vini naturali è un po’ come entrare in un film di Tim Burton – musicisti, ingegneri, banchieri, architetti, venditori di pesci tropicali per acquari, cantanti lirici… –  ci trovi dentro personaggi e dettagli inaspettati. Proprio come in certi vini franchi che, appena versati nel bicchiere, ti lasciano perplesso “Bisogna dargli tempo e aspettare che si aprano e che dicano quello che hanno da dire”… e allora ti si apre un mondo. Chi parla è Sandro Sangiorgi, fondatore di Porthos, che ha tenuto uno dei seminari di approfondimento svoltisi durante la rassegna. “Sfatiamo un mito: non è vero che i vini che hanno difetti sono più interessanti perché hanno più personalità” ha sottolineato “Ma chi l’ha detto?! Un difetto è una cosa seria, se un vino puzza vuol dire che hai sbagliato qualcosa, che è successo qualcosa di cui non ti sei accorto e a cui non hai saputo rimediare”. Ecco. Sfatiamo un mito: i vini naturali, se fatti bene, non puzzano. Continua a leggere “NOT, cronache di Vini Franchi (Identità Golose)”

I Vini di Contrada di Arianna: 3 sfumature di Frappato

Dalla pagina Facebook di Arianna Occhipinti apprendiamo con grande soddisfazione della prossima uscita dei suoi Cru di Frappato, o Vini di Contrada (come da lei definiti), i cui campioni avevamo assaggiato e raccontato quando ci ha aperto le porte della sua cantina a maggio dello scorso anno.

Nessun testo alternativo automatico disponibile.

Vederli in bottiglia è per noi emozionante e non vediamo l’ora di versarli nei nostri calici. Ecco il racconto di Arianna:

Il nostro lavoro in vigneto è una inesauribile fonte di osservazione.
In particolare negli ultimi anni mi sono concentrata sui suoli e sulla potenzialità delle contrade di Vittoria e delle loro influenze sui vini. Mi sono resa conto che le vigne lavorano su questo gioco di sabbia e calcare, che nei vini è frutto e setosità da un lato, come anche acidità e energia dall’altro. La stessa ricerca mi ha stimolato poi ad andare oltre pensando a una vigna un vino. O meglio tre.

Pettineo: è una contrada storica oltre il promontorio di Serra San Bartolo; storicamente ha prodotto vini sempre molto eleganti grazie a uno strato di sabbia di origine marina sciolta e profonda (50 cm) con poca presenza di ciottoli calcarei in superficie. La Chiusa di Pettineo ha circa 60 anni ed è un vecchio alberello che fu trasformato in spalliera, facendo arrampicare tra i tralicci le piante che ora hanno anche forme monumentali. PT. Bottiglie prodotte 2700.

Fossa di Lupo: contrada storica, spina dorsale del mio lavoro dal 2004; le terre sono sabbiose con sfumature che vanno dal rosso al castano e con una sostanziale presenza di calcare in sasso in superficie. Dopo i primi 40 cm di sabbia si presenta uno strato piuttosto duro di calcare roccioso. La vigna ad alberello ha un sesto d’impianto tipico della zona di Vittoria. La contrada guarda a nord est i Monti Iblei. FL. Bottiglie prodotte 2700.

Bombolieri: ci troviamo in un promontorio molto calcareo che guarda la Serra San Bartolo. Qui le terre variano dal castano al bianco, ma lo strato di sabbia superfciale è decisamente inferiore, solo 25 cm. Appena sotto si trovano rocce calcaree solide. Una parte della contrada ha un suolo più argillo-calcareo, visivamente bianco in superficie, ed è qui, nella Vigna Strada che nasce questo vino. BB. Bottiglie prodotte 2700.

E l’uva? Il Frappato, vitigno storico di Vittoria, al quale mi sono particolarmente legata sin dall’inizio del mio percorso, delicato, sanguigno e austero. In questo caso però vorrei che fosse considerato un tramite, uno strumento a disposizione del terroir e non il fine.

Sicily – A Wine Region That’s An Island Apart (Forbes)

Sicily has many positive images (as well as a few not-so-positive), but when it comes to Sicilian wines, the subject is a bit of a puzzle to many. There are several reasons for this, but lately, producers in select areas such as Vittoria, Noto and Etna are crafting some pretty special products that are receiving a lot of attention and changing the mindset of consumers and the wine trade about the wines of Sicily.

Perhaps the most positive notion of Sicily is that everyone knows the name, and anyone can find it on a map of Italy; this last point is certainly not true with some of the country’s regions such as Abruzzo, Marche or Emilia-Romagna. So familiarity helps gets Sicilian producers get a foot in the door in the market, but unfortunately the identity of this region’s wines has for too long been one of sub-par quality.

This is based on the notion that Sicily is not a place to produce wines of elegance and finesse; the hot climate leads to lower acidity, meaning the wines lack structure and freshness. Add to that the fact that for decades, most table wine that emerged from the region was little more than bulk wine; flavorful, yet heavy, these wines were often shipped in tankers to other parts of Italy to “beef up” lighter red wines.

In fact, the history of quality for Sicilian wines in previous years was primarily focused on Marsala, one of the world’s most highly praised fortified wines, made in several styles, from very dry to medium-sweet. Yet even given the renown for the finest examples of Marsala, the strongest image with this wine for many consumers is for cooking, as with Veal Marsala or Chicken Marsala, hardly the stuff of greatness.

Antonio Rallo, proprietor of Donnafuagata Winery, one of Sicily’s most famous producers (PHOTO COURTESY OF DONNAFUGATA)

About 40 years ago, a few producers decided to do something about the image of Sicilian wines, so production of bulk wine was decreased – although it is still a large part of the region’s wine industry – and planting of international varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah were undertaken. Add to this a new focus on indigenous varieties such as Grillo and Carricante for white and Nero d’Avola and Frappato for red, and all of a sudden, the Sicilian wine pallete was aglow with a multitiude of colors and flavors.

Talk to enough Sicilian producers and you’ll learn they believe that Sicily is a magical place to make wine, as it is such a distinctive land. “The climate, the countryside, the customs, the terroir and its varieties are very different from other regions,” says Alessio Planeta, co-proprietor of his family’s winery, one of the region’s greatest ambassadors.

Alessio Planeta, co-proprietor of Planeta Winery, one of the best known of all Sicilian wine estates (PHOTO COURTESY PLANETA WINERY)

The weather, though it may be hot, does assure that almost anything can grow on the island. “Sicily is regarded a place that can grow almost any grape presenting an extraordinary patrimony of biodiversity with over 70 indigenous grape varieties,” comments Antonio Rallo of Donnafugata, another renowned Sicilian wine estate. “This is why people describe Sicily as a wine continent.

Given its viticultural history skewed toward workman-like wine, it is no surprise that there has not been an iconic Sicilian wine, such as Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany, Barolo and Barbaresco from Piemonte or Amarone from the Veneto. While this may have meant a lack of media attention toward Sicilian wines, the renaissance that started 40 years ago and continues today, has resulted in exciting new ventures and paths of the region’s viticulture. “Sicily is in a constant acquisition of auto renewal,” says Planeta. There is an improvement in knowledge and awareness of our terroirs, as well as among ourselves.”

Today, the wines of the Etna District in northeastern Sicily, are the ones that garner the greatest attention. “Etna is the hot ticket for driving Sicily’s quality image, both in Italy and abroad, with its cooler climate, volcanic contenders red Nerello Mascalese and white Carricante having attracted much global attention among sommeliers and independent merchants,” Rallo remarks. Planeta agrees, commenting, “Etna has the magic at the moment and is a positive thing for all of the island.”

The wines of Etna are something of a minor miracle given the rocky soils of volcanic ash and pumice that were formed by lava flow from the nearby volcano. It’s a difficult venture for a grape grower, notes Giuseppe Tornatore of the eponymous Etna estate. “It takes a lot of patience and dedication because what elsewhere is done in one year, it is done in two years in Etna. It takes a lot of sacrifice, suffering always the magnetism of the volcano and everything that depends on it.

Examples of Etna Bianco are made primarily with the local Carricante grape and have various characteristics, with some offering melon and pear fruit, while others display distinct minerality, even resembling the wines of Chablis in Burgundy. Overall, the best of these whites have shown tremendous improvement in a very short period of time.

It is the reds however that are most famous, made from the indigenous Nerello Mascalese variety. These wines have been called “Italy’s Burgundies,” and no wonder given the appealing cherry and sometimes strawberry aromas and its sleek finish. Some producers have opted as of late for a more powerful style of Etna Rosso that is more tannic (almost like a Nebbiolo-based wine from Piedmont), but this dual identity only adds to the allure of the red wines of Etna.

Planeta Winery near Noto, one of several wine facilities of the company (PHOTO COURTESY OF PLANETA WINERY)

Arguably the best-known red from Sicily over the past twenty years has been Nero d’Avola, an indigenous variety. Its popularity is due to its appealing black cherry and plum fruit backed by relatively smooth tannins. Sicilian producers love it, as it also works well when blended with other red varieties such as Merlot and Syrah.

The Duca di Salaparuta winery bottled the first monovarietal Nero d’Avola they named “Duca Enrico” back in 1984; today this is still regarded as one of the best examples of this variety. Other classic examples include the “Mille e Una Notte” from Donnafugata (about 90% Nero d’Avola) and the “Santa Cecilia” from Planeta, labeled as Noto DOC. This last wine, initially made in the 1997 vintage, has become a classic example of Nero d’Avola structured for aging, as 12 and 15-year old bottles are still drinking well.

Another red that has become successful over the past few years is Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato. Cerasuolo means “cherry like”; this fruit emerges in the aromas, along with red and orange rose perfumes, and there are soft, silky tannins, thanks to the Frappato. Here is a red that tastes great when chilled for 15-20 minutes, and given the lightness of the tannins, it is ideal with duck breast, chicken in red wine or even tuna. Top examples include the Feudi del Pisciotto “Giambattista Valli”, the “Floramundi” from Donnafugata, and the alluring, ultra delicious “Dorilli” from Planeta.

Briefly on whites, Grillo is an indigenous variety that for years was used in the production of Marsala. But on its own, it has appealing exotic fruit aromas and pairs well with a variety of foods, from poultry to lighter seafood; look for the examples from Valle dell’Acate and the “Sur Sur” from Donnafugata.

There are countless other whites that I can recommend, from the 100% Fiano from Planeta known as “Cometa,” a sumptuous, dry white that is among Italy’s best, as well as “Lighea” a dry Zibibbo (Moscato) from Donnafugata, and the Tasca d’Almerita “Contea di Sclafani” Chardonnay. There are countless treasures – white, red and sweet – throughout Sicily – and the best producers there are diligent in their efforts to take the region’s wines to the next step, as Planeta remarks. “We are past the period of experimentation and are now in a period of increasing our knowledge of our terroirs. We are uniting the results of past years with a studious attention of tradition.

The rest of this interesting article and the notes on current releases are here.

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.

Continua a leggere “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

Azienda Agricola Occhipinti, natural wines in Sicily (Orange Wines)

A country road connecting Gela to Kamarina going through Cerasuolo di Vittoria hills and from Caltagirone it continued to Catania and Lentini. This road is the SP68. One might think that there is nothing special about this road but if you know about Sicily wine then you know about this road. It crosses Fossa di Lupo District where one of the most special wineries in this island is located: Agricola Occhipinti, where owner and winemaker Arianna Occhipinti produces her world-known wines.

Continua a leggere “Azienda Agricola Occhipinti, natural wines in Sicily (Orange Wines)”