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The red wines of Sicily come in many forms: on Mount Etna, they are thought-provoking, nuanced, and refined. The Nero d’Avolas of Eloro, outside the ancient town of Ispica, are dark, powerful, and brooding. And in Vittoria, west of stunning Ragusa, the reds have a personality all their own. Made from a blend of Frappato and Calabrese (the local name for Nero d’Avola), these wines are delicate, perfumed, and irresistibly quaffable.
The Portelli family is a long-established producer in the area; Alessandro Portelli represents the fifth successive generation to run this historic estate. Little has changed over the years: until as recently as the 1960s, vinification took place in various palmenti—small farmhouses typically found in Sicily—scattered throughout the countryside. Today, the harvest is brought to a central cellar on the outskirts of Vittoria, but the organically farmed grapes are still vinified using the same traditional methods. Only last year did they begin shipping their wines to us in California.
Portelli’s Cerasuolo di Vittoria offers Frappato’s ravishing floral aromatics and fruit-driven pleasure, along with the muscle and depth of the noble Calabrese. While most Sicilian reds exhibit high alcohol and brawny structure, this one is all about purity of fruit, class, and utter drinkability. With its medium-bodied, sensual, seductive personality, the wine is hard not to love.
In the southeastern corner of Sicily, west of Modica and Ragusa, the town of Vittoria is the home of Sicily's sole DOCG (Italy's strictest form of wine certification), known as Cersuolo di Vittoria. Cerasuolo is an enlightened blend of Frappato and Nero d'Avola, and the two grapes when blended melt into each other in a harmonious symphony of flavor and texture. I fell in love with the wine and its medium-bodied, sensual, seductive personality. Then I discovered the Portelli family, Salvatore and his son Alessandro, and have been duly impressed with their mastery of these fine examples of southern Sicilian charm. Their wines are fresh, and joyful to drink, all while being faithful representatives of their native land. Welcome to a new KLWM standard.
A good doctor prescribed the wine of Nuits-Saint-Georges to the Sun King, Louis XIV, when he suffered an unknown maladie. When the king’s health was restored the tasty remedy enjoyed a vogue at court. Lord, send me a doctor like that!
Inspiring Thirst, page 117