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)”

Il 26 maggio torna il Val di Noto Wine Tour

Noto, 9 maggio 2019: Le quattro aziende vitivinicole siciliane Cantina Marilina, Planeta, Ramaddini e Terre di Noto, dopo il grande successo delle altre edizioni, per il quarto anno consecutivo ripropongono, in occasione di Cantine Aperte, l’evento enoturistico più importante a livello nazionale organizzato dal Movimento Turismo del Vino, il network territoriale “Val di Noto Wine tour”.
L’idea è nata dal desiderio dei proprietari delle quattro Cantine di creare un unico gruppo per promuovere l’enoturismo nel sud est dell’isola, in particolare, e il territorio, in generale, attraverso un sistema integrato di esperienze territoriali legate a uno dei prodotti che più di tutti ne rappresenta la storia e la tradizione.

cartolina fronte 10x15.jpg Continua a leggere “Il 26 maggio torna il Val di Noto Wine Tour”

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)”

Vino della settimana: Eloro Dop Spaccaforno 2015 di Riofavara (Cronache di Gusto)

Ci troviamo nella Sicilia sud orientale, area storicamente nota per la coltivazione del Nero d’Avola. 

Il clima caldo e secco, l’intensità dell’irradiazione solare, i particolari suoli e la vicinanza del mare sono tutti fattori che permettono di ottenere rossi dalla personalità unica in un contesto nel quale la vite va facilmente in stress, ma, proprio per questo, riesce a dare grandi risultati.

Riofavara nasce nel 1920 come azienda viticola per poi diventare, nel 1994, vitivinicola. Massimo Padova, l’attuale titolare, dirige le attività seguendo una filosofia produttiva basata su territorio e rispetto per la natura con uno sguardo ragionato nei confronti delle tecnologie che permettono di ottenere in cantina il meglio dalla materia prima. Continua a leggere “Vino della settimana: Eloro Dop Spaccaforno 2015 di Riofavara (Cronache di Gusto)”

La Guida NDA Nero d’Avola Wine

La Guida rappresenta i migliori vini selezionati nell’anno 2018, 73 cantine recensite, 150 vini 100% Nero d’Avola, il territorio, e le descrizioni di ogni cantina. Lo scorso novembre a Catania il Sommelier Carmelo Sgandurra ha presentato la Guida NDA Nero d ‘Avola Wine 2018-19 dove sono inserite le aziende siciliane che hanno presentato le eccellenze dell’autocno a bacca rossa. 

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Così Carmelo Sgandurra, Sommelier Zosimo, racconta la sua opera: “Il mio amore per il nero d’Avola inizia fin da bambino, quando curioso domandavo ai miei nonni “Peppino” e “Carmelo” tutti i processi che avvenivano dalla potatura fino al bicchiere di vino, che rappresentava tutto per me, la mia infanzia, i miei primi gusti ed era considerato prelibato premio giornaliero. In questi anni ho voluto approfondire il territorio, le produzioni e tutto quello che è stato e si proietta nel futuro di questo vitigno “principe” di Sicilia.”

La Guida 2017 – 2018 ha riscosso un successo inaspettato, tradotta in 9 lingue; questa edizione è stampata contemporaneamente in Italiano ed Inglese sotto una forma rinnovata e più fruibile.

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Top 10 Nero d’Avola 2018 (Wine Searcher’s data)

Let’s start again to browse on the data Wine Searcher to see which are the wines of Sicily that have been searched on the Internet during 2018. We speak about a wine that is stil an emblem, a distinctive product of our island: the Nero d’Avola.

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  1. Cusumano – Nero d’Avola Terre Siciliane IGT
  2. Feudi del Pisciotto – ‘Versace’ Nero d’Avola Terre Siciliane IGT
  3. Tasca d’Almerita – Tenuta Regaleali Nero d’Avola Sicilia
  4. Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti – ‘Siccagno’ Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT
  5. Gulfi – Nerojbleo Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT
  6. Donnafugata – Sedara Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT
  7. Feudo Maccari – Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT
  8. Firriato – Harmonium Nero d’Avola Terre Siciliane IGT
  9. Feudo Principi di Butera – Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT
  10. Tasca d’Almerita -Tenuta Regaleali Lamuri Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT

Here the result of last year.

 

How Nero d’Avola is shaping the future of Sicilian wine (imbibe.com)

For anyone whose main experience of islands is the Isle of Wight, Sicily comes as a bit of a shock. Admittedly, both have plenty of sea, beach and pensioners driving round on holiday. But, whereas you can cycle most of the way round the splodge in the Channel in a day (at least, you can if you’re fitter than I am), Sicily is big. And lumpy. Even if he doped himself up like Lance Armstrong, Chris Froome couldn’t get round this little beauty in 24 hours.

At 25,000 sq m, Sicily is bigger than Wales and its geography is, frankly, nuts. On the meeting point of two tectonic plates, it’s a mountainous island with no shortage of 1500m-high peaks in the central range and along the north coast.

At its eastern edge, gazing over the rest of the island like a bad tempered grandmother, is the looming, belching, grumbling presence of Mount Etna. The beach at Shanklin struggles to compete. Which – in a seamless segue – is also what Sicily was struggling to do until recently. Continua a leggere “How Nero d’Avola is shaping the future of Sicilian wine (imbibe.com)”

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.

Giornate internazionali del Nero d’Avola

Prima edizione per celebrare il Nero d’Avola, eccellenza enologica siciliana.
Dall’11 al 14 maggio prossimi si svolgeranno le Giornate internazionali del Nero d’Avola, un’iniziativa ideata ed organizzata da Carmelo Sgandurra, Master Sommelier ed autore della NDA – Guida del Nero d’Avola. Obiettivo della cinque giorni quella di rilanciare, affermare, apprezzare le produzioni del rinomato vitigno autoctono siciliano alla luce del notevole successo che la Guida NDA ha riscosso nel mondo. A fare da cornice ai tanti eventi in programma sarà la splendida Valle dei Templi di Agrigento. Una location suggestiva, ossia lo Spazio Temenos “ex chiesa di San Pietro” nel cuore della città, sarà sede del seminario in programma l’11 maggio dal titolo “L’evoluzione produttiva del Nero d’Avola, principe dei vitigni siciliani, dalle sue origini ad oggi. Prospettive future”. Il seminario, moderato dal direttore di Vinoway, Davide Gangi, prenderà il via alle ore 15.00:  sarà un susseguirsi di importanti interventi alla presenza di buyer, produttori e giornalisti per dibattere sul presente ed il futuro di questo vitigno. Se ne parlerà in particolare alla presenza dei famosi enologi Riccardo Cotarella, Salvo Foti, Tonino Guzzo e Vittorio Festa. Continua a leggere “Giornate internazionali del Nero d’Avola”

Fondo Antico, Aprile 2017

Nunc est bibendum

(285 parole)

Chi abbia letto La terra desolata ricorderà (forse anche senza volerlo) l’incipit sulfureo sulla fertilità e l’enigmatica rinascita della natura:

Fondo Antico - Aprile (vino rosato da Nero d'Avola)APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

APRILE  è il mese più crudele, genera
Lillà da terra morta, confondendo
Memoria e desiderio, risvegliando
Le radici sopite con la pioggia della primavera.
(trad. Roberto Sanesi)

Aprile è il nome del secondo rosato della cantina trapanese Fondo Antico, sempre a base Nero d’Avola. Rispetto a Memorie, non potrebbe esserci vino più diverso (e più lontano dai versi di T.S. Eliot): tanto è profondo ed intenso quello, vicino a un canto ancestrale, a un affondo in una dimensione epico-drammatica, quanto questo è lieve, fresco, avvolgente o, più ancora, travolgente.

A metà tra il tenue e il corallo, a seconda delle inclinazioni…

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