I’m dreaming of Sicily this December. It warms my bones and brightens my mood to picture myself there, in summertime, surrounded by the sea, the sky, and lush canopies of vineyards growing in ashen soil. Here are three wines from the island to put you, too, in a Sicilian state of mind.
Juicy melon, sweet dates, and a hint of ripe persimmon emanate from this Carricante grown on the southern side (lato sud) of Etna. Slightly golden and strikingly saline, a white with this much warmth and character could wash down a slow-cooked tagine of tender meat and dried fruits, or a whole roasted, crispy fish topped with herbs and toasted chiles. Save your shyer dishes for a simpler wine; this one is a star and deserves a bold pairing.
In 2005, Catania natives Cesare Fulvio and Federica Turillo left their jobs in the city for a simpler life in Randazzo, on the northern slopes of Mount Etna. Their new home was a small farm surrounded by two hectares of terraced vineyards at Contrada Pino, elevation 800 meters. They renovated the property’s ancient palmento, a traditional farmhouse featuring an old press and large fermentation vats made of lava stone, and began to work the 120-year-old vines organically and biodynamically. The grapes are stomped by foot in these vats, and then an open-air fermentation takes place before the wine is aged in old 500-liter tonneaux and bottled unfiltered. These primitive, yet time-tested techniques yield a profound red wine full of depth, liveliness, and old-school, rustic character. Its intensely gripping, ashy-fine tannin is a trademark of wines from Contrada Pino.
I’m not sure that “yummo!” is an official tasting note, but that’s what I texted to a colleague, with a snap of this wine’s label. The 2018 is a bright and energetic vintage, velvety and fresh, and I quite enjoyed drinking it on its own. The blend of Frappato (a grape known for tasting of wild strawberry) and Calabrese (which has an earthier profile) is a perfect marriage, balanced and complete. I wanted for nothing while I had a glass of this in my hand . . . you might say I found peace in it.
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