Ah Italy …. where do you begin …. is it the stunning scenery from the rolling hills of Tuscany and the ragged coastline of Amalfi, or the inspiring Greek and Roman architecture … perhaps it’s the one thing that can be transported across the world and to our homes, which is the much loved and revered Italian food and wine.
Like many, I have quaffed back a number Italian red and white wines, but on my journey of wine education, I’ve come to realise that I have merely scratched the surface with the number of Italian grape varieties and the increasing sophistication in viticulture, which creates the perfect excuse to delve deeper. As this is about the wine, I touch briefly on food, but will not deny my passion for Italian cuisine, which will only inspire me to learn more about the pairing and enjoyment of both.
As a starting point in my discovery, FineWineToMe asked me to taste the Occhipinti, Il Frappato 2014, produced by Arianna Occhipinti. Located in the island’s only DOCG wine region, Cerasuolo Di Vittoria, in southern Sicily, the wine is made from the red Frappato grape variety and produced as a natural, organic and biodynamic wine. Arianna Occhipinti an inspiring viticulturist and recommend reading more about her family’s story and philosophy at www.agricolaocchipinti.it
As the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is seeing increasing innovation in winemaking with both indigenous Sicilian varieties and blends with international varieties. Sicily evokes great passion, indisputably influenced by thousands of years of history from the ancient Greeks and Romans to modern day European, but at the heart of this passion is the country’s collaboration between culture, wine and food, combining the history of the traditional with the modernity of today’s environment and lifestyle.
My tasting took place on a rather grey Sunday in London. It was my daughters last day before returning to university, so it called for a proper Sunday lunch. However, I did wonder if it was an odd pairing with the wine I was about to taste and dreamily wished I was on the steps of Sicily’s famous Greek Amphitheatre at Syracuse, watching a Greek tragedy with a picnic of Italian antipasti and a bottle of Il Frappato. Back to reality, the solution was to add a twist to the roast – Italian Yorkshire Pudding – yes it does exist. I slightly adapted the Alberti Twins recipe and included rosemary and garlic, the Yorkshire’s rose beautifully and the combination with the beef actually made this a decent pairing with the Il Frappato.
It is worth allowing this wine to breath or decant, as it then really comes to life. Being more familiar with the Sanigovese variety, there is a similarity between the two, however, I found Il Frappato to be smoother, maybe more sophisticated and grown up than a typical Sangiovese. It has an intensity strong enough to pair with the richness of the beef and Yorkshire Pudding, but with a softness that allows you to drink on its own or with a lighter dish or antipasti.
Definitely one to recommend and I’ll be going back for more!