I spent four days at the Sicilia en Primeur 2011, tasting Sicilian wine and meeting wine producers. It was an intense, informative and fun event. I visited the Terre Sciane and Pantelleria group of wine producers for two days before arriving at the Donnafugata Resort near Ragusa where we tasted wines for two days. There was the option to taste each wine with the producers. This was fantastic for me because I believe to truly know a wine you must know the personalities of the producers and how they work. There was also the opportunity to taste wines with an AIS sommelier instead of the wine maker.
I opted for tasting at the producers’ tables where I had the chance to hear each cantina’s story straight from the producers. By the end of the event, I tasted more than 100 wines. The diversity of the territory and the wine makers personalities shine through each glass. I walked away with a growing admiration and love of Sicily, its wines and the pioneers who are transforming the landscape of Sicilian wines.
I’ll be adding these to my wine list! Enjoy…
Occhipinti – Il Frappato 2008
Arianna Occhipinti is the 20-something year old behind these extraordinary wines and vineyard. An artisan producer, her wines are moving. Arianna’s love for the land and hands-on approach to winemaking are captivating. The small vineyard is located in Vittoria in the region of Ragusa. Il Frappato, IGT 2008, is ruby red in color with scents and flavors of red berries and green tea. Fresh and delicate, this wine left me wanting to taste and re-taste it time and time again.
Centopassi – Catarratto Terre Rosse di Giabbascio 2010
Centopassi is the winemaking division started in 2002 by two social cooperatives of Libera Terra on 60 hectares of land confiscated from the “Cosa Nostra” around the outskirts of Palermo and Corleone. This new generation of inspirational wine producers are finding ways to give back to both the land and people of Sicily by producing high quality organic wine. All of their wines are interesting. The Catarratto, IGT 2010, comes from the Giabbascio vineyard situated near Palermo at 400 meters above sea level. It is smooth and fresh with floral and tropical fruit notes – a must try!
Graci di Alberto Aiello Graci – Quota 600 Rosso 2008
Graci focuses on the traditional varieties of nerello mascalese, nerello cappuccio, carricante and catarratto indigenous to Mount Etna. The wines reflect the terroir, bold and beautiful. The Quota 600 Rosso, Etna Rosso DOC is elegant and balanced with an intense nose and flavor of dark red fruits.
COS – Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico 2008
Giusto Occhipinti and Titta Cilia have been making wine together since 1980. The duo can be credited with putting cerasuola di vittoria back on the map. Renowned for aging wines in terra-cotta amphorae, this DOCG nero d’avola-frappato blend is evocative, earthy and full bodied.
Donnafugata – Ben Ryé 2008
Donnafugata is one of the family run vineyards that painted the story of Sicilan wine and Josè Rallo is the face and voice of the cantina; her passion, radiance and determination are reflected in the array of Donnafugata wines. The Ben Ryé 2008, DOC Passito from Pantelleria has a stand up personality and richness. Amber in color with strong scents of apricot, peaches and honey, this dessert wine pairs well with aged cheese and cannoli.