I’m all over Sicilian wines this summer, I think it’s the heat bringing it out and the fact that they feel so authentic and go with so many different foods and cuisines.
Nero d’Avola has for a long time been one of my go to Southern Italy wines (along with Primitivo, Frappato and Negroamaro – all depending on the mood and current selection of course).
Nero d’Avola (or Calabrese as it’s also called) is the most planted variety in Sicily and is currently not widely cultivated outside of Italy. We generally talk about bold and fruity full-bodied wines, but a cooler vintage can bring out medium style wines with tart cherry and raspberry flavours. A warmer vintage will go more towards darker fruits and jammy flavours. You generally also get some spice (tobacco and liquorice) and finally a smoky finish if it’s been aged in wood. The famous Cerasuolo di Vittoria, the only DOCG in Sicily, blends Nero d’Avola and Frappato together where the first adds depth and structure to the very light-bodied Frappato.
Arianna Occhipinti’s Nero d’Avola is a great shout for someone who is hesitant towards natural and biodynamic wines. This is a good way into understanding what such a wine could offer without going too far on the “funky” side. Based in Vittoria, in South-eastern Sicily the soil tends to be mainly limestone - the grape is known to keep acidity well despite being grown in saline soils. I would say that this wine is on the heavier side of a medium body wine. There is lots of black cherry and plums but also a bit of wild raspberry with a slight fizz on the tongue (where the natural winemaking technique shines through). It has a surprisingly sharp acidity at first, but with the juicy ripe fruits and tones of liquorice and chili pepper it is very well balanced. With those grippy tannins, acidity and fruit explosion all in harmony - this wine could age very well! After a little while in the glass the wine opens up even further and a bit of yeastiness (again: natural) pops out – love it.
This wine is so versatile. What started off as an aperitif with some olives, turned into an all-round dinner wine with Turkish meze style bread and dips followed by a smoky bean stew. But I could also pair it with a coal-grilled burger or a prosciutto pizza.
Apparently, it should also go well with anchovies, but I think I’ll let someone else decide if that works or not…
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Blog posted by Sofia – Follow her on Instagram
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