October 15 2016

The ultimate sicilian wine dinner

1. 2012 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso Feudo di Mezzo "IL Quadro delle Rose" Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
The 2012 Etna Rosso shows a fascinating bouquet with dried herb, balsam tones and beautiful background notes of dried fruit and mineral. The wine evolves quickly in the glass and is really quite remarkable in terms of its intensity. It consists of 98% Nerello Mascalese and a tiny part Nerello Cappuccio aged in oak for up to 11 months. Again, you get remarkable quality with Tenuta delle Terre Nere at impressively low price points. Drink 2015-2022. Rated 93 The Wine Advocate

2. 2014 Arianna Occhipinti "SP68" Nero d'Avola e Frappato Sicily Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT)
The 2014 SP 68 is an IGT blend of 70% Frappato and 30% Nero d'Avola that bares the hallmark signature of Sicily's dynamic Arianna Occhipinti. She follows a natural winemaking philosophy and although the wines are not technically perfect -- especially to a professional palate like mine -- they offer tons of personality and charm. I am a huge fan of Arianna's work, and her sheer determination to make the wine she wants in the distinct style she has envisioned is inspirational. The wine is slightly awkward with soda, dark cherry, moist chewing tobacco and a subtle touch of effervescence. Background tones of spice and leather give the wine enduring persistence. The Wine Advocate

"Dark ruby. The perfumed aromas of ripe dark berries, licorice and minerals reminded me of Frappato. Bright, lively and juicy, conveying lovely balance to the ripe red and dark berry flavors complicated by herbs and underbrush. Finishes bright and long, with a zippy stony overlay. These vines are just ten years old, so this already very good wine will only get better in future vintages." Named for the road going past the winery, SP68 is a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato. This is a perfect balance of power and finesse; the Nero imparts rich dark fruits and the Frappato adds a high-toned raspberry note. Simply stunning. 91 POINTS IAN D'AGATA - VINOUS

3. 2013 Zisola Mazzei Nero d'Avola Sicilia DOC
Deep ruby red. Aromas of wild berries and hints of spice. Medium-bodied, intense flavors of blackberry and dark cherry, accented by notes of violet, pepper and exotic spices. Wine Spectator - "A lovely, medium-bodied red, with a pure beam of ripe cherry and fresh acidity layered with supple tannins and accents of star anise, dried thyme, loamy earth and mocha. Drink now through 2023. #89 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2015 (Rated 90 by Wine Spectator)

Zisola's 2013 Zisola is a very attractive red wine that shows a most promising side to modern Sicilian winemaking. This Nero d'Avola opens to a medium garnet and ruby color and shows a compact but bright and zesty style. Elegant tones of red cherry, dried herb and light spice are integrated and balanced. The effect is compact and tight. Rated 90+ The Wine Advocate

4. 2013 Arianna Occhipinti Siccagno Nero d'Avola Sicilia IGT
The 2013 Nero d'Avola Siccagno opens to a dark color and thicker concentration. This is what distinguishes the Nero d'Avola grape from the other favorite varieties in Arianna Occhipinti's exciting portfolio. Also of interest is how this wine presents such authentic aromatic characteristics of dark cherry, balsam herb and black olive. The non-interventionist winemaking style gives plenty of room for varietal expression. This wine promises a steady evolution over the next five years. The Wine Advocate

5. 2010 Gulfi Nerosanlorè Sicilia IGT Nero d'Avola
"Fully saturated ruby. Pure, very deep aromas of black cherry, red plum, medicinal herbs and minerals. Rich, dense and suave, with complex flavors of saline red berries and dark plum complicated by repeating botanical herb and balsamic nuances. Finishes seamless an long. A wine of noteworthy purity, with an excellent balance of sweetness, acidity and tannins. This is Gulfi's closest vineyard to the sea and almost always gives the estate's most elegant, refined wine." Rated 95 IAN D'AGATA--VINOUS

6. 2011 Donnafugata Tancredi IGT
The 2011 Tancredi is made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero d'Avola, Tannat and other red grapes (in the Sicilia IGT appellation). This is a huge wine with broad shoulders and a very opulent but forthcoming style. The bouquet offers jammy blackberry and cherry liqueur with spice, cola, licorice and Spanish cedar. Tancredi shows a spectacular level of intensity with power and muscle. This vintage delivers a powerful punch. The wine needs a few more months of bottle aging to loosen up. Rated 92 The Wine Advocate

7. 2012 Donnafugata Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria (dessert wine - 375ml)
The 2012 Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé is the result of a dry vintage and healthy concentration of sugars. Ben Ryé's taste profile changes enormously when you get to these younger vintages. Passito di Pantelleria is a wine that shows a very distinct jump in evolution just a few years into its aging process. Once it makes it past that first plateau, the wine then embarks on an excruciatingly slow progression that takes decades to complete. In fact, looking back at this retrospective, I can't say that any of the wines felt "old" or flat. Even the inaugural 1989 vintage is beaming with life. I have the same high expectations for this vintage. Rated 94 The Wine Advocate