Showing posts with label Sicily. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sicily. Show all posts

Saturday, May 13, 2017

SuperValu's Italians. 
On Offer For Next Two Weeks


SuperValu's Italians
On Offer For Next Two Weeks

SuperValu are in the mood to celebrate all things Italian and their wine expert Kevin O’Callaghan is joining in the fun by putting the focus on their range of Specially Sourced Italian Wines which will be on offer for two weeks from Thursday May 11th. 

We’ve enjoyed the five below over the past few days. From the "fashionable" Aglianico to the more traditional appassimento, they are all good (good value too) with the Ammasso just about about shading it  (I might need a re-run!) as our number one of the bunch. 



Tombacco Aglianico dei Beneventano (IGT) 2013, 14%, €10.00 (down from 12.99).

Aglianico, a variety with Greek connections, is prominent in the vineyards of Campania and Basilicata. Haven’t heard of it? Don’t worry. The Italian vineyards are among the most diverse in the world and hundreds of varieties have been “authorised” for planting and selling as wine, according to Vino Italiano.

Aglianico is the dominant red wine grape in the IGT of Beneventano which itself is a thriving IGT in Campania. In Grapes and Wines, it is described as “suddenly one of the most fashionable grapes of a newly fashionable region”.

There are aromas of vanilla, red fruits too, from this deep ruby coloured wine. It is soft on the palate, cherry and plum, a little spice too, plus a decent finish. Elegant and warm and Highly Recommended. Pair with “all red meats and aged cheeses”.


Il Capolavoro Vino Rosso Appassimento, Puglia (IGT) 2015, 14.5%, €10.00 (down from 14.99).

Some of you may have seen Gonzalo Gerardo Higuaín score the goals that gave Juventus a vital away win over Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. His contribution was described as “il capolavoro”, the Italian for masterpiece. Might try a bottle of this next time that Higuaín is on telly.

The vinous Il Capolavoro has been produced by using the traditional “appassimento” method, whereby the grapes are partially dried to increase colour and concentration. It has worked well for the Italians over the decades and works rather well here too.

The colour is a rich ruby and you’ll notice the legs are slow to clear. There are intense aromas of dark fruits, chocolate notes too. On the palate, that sought after concentration is pleasantly evident; it is full of flavour with a touch of smooth spice, a hint of sweetness and it is juicy too. Easy drinking and Highly Recommended.

Pairings recommended are: veal, chicken, and pork and any pasta or pizza that comes with a tomato sauce.


Burdizzo Vermentino Toscana (IGT) 2015, 12%, €10.00 (down from 12.99)

Vermentino, a favourite of  mine, may be found “the length of Italy” according to Grapes and Wines but the “best wines come from Tuscany, Sardinia ad Liguria.” Outside of Italy you’ll find some pretty good examples in the Languedoc where it is also known as Rolle.

Vino Italiano considers it “one of Italy’s most distinctive whites” and also highlights the same three regions. Wine writer Fiona Beckett says that many tip Vermentino to challenge the dominance of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris.

Vermentino production in Tuscany, an area where red varieties account for almost 90% of the total vineyard area, has rocketed in the last 10 years, according to Decanter: “…. 2010 found 653 hectares planted to Vermentino. By 2015, the regional government was reporting 1,192 hectares….”.

Our Burdizzo has the colour of light straw. Aromas are of white fruit, with floral and herbal notes, a pleasant mix. Palate is crisp and fresh, no shortage of that white fruit with peach and green-melon flavours to the fore all the way to a long finalé. Highly Recommended.

Barone Montalto Ammasso 2013 Rosso Terre Siciliane (IGT), 14.5%, €15.00 (down from €18.99)

This too uses partially dried grapes, the method known in Sicily as Ammasso. The varieties blended in this gorgeous and complex wine are Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A serious work of wine is the result and it is Very Highly Recommended.

Medium ruby red is the colour and the aromas, of dark fruit, are pretty intense. There is a luscious concentrated fruit, hints of sweetness, light spice too; overall, a rather plush wine, tannins just about in play, and the finish is long.

Castellani Arbos Sangiovese, Tuscany (IGT) 2013, 13.5%, €10.00 (down from 12.99) 

Vanilla is prominent in the aromas of this Highly Recommended medium red; darker fruits there too. On the palate, it is smooth and fruity (cherries and plums), drifts of spice too, plus that quintessential acidity (almost an ever-present in Italian wines), and fine sweet tannins make it a pleasure in the mouth and the finish ain't bad either. Great value.

The producer’s aim has been to use the best Sangiovese grapes “to produce a Tuscan red dominated by fruity and spice notes, typical of the grape”. This worthy effort may be enjoyed with red meats and pasta dishes.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

From the Islands. Vermentino from Sardinia And a Grillo from Sicily

From the Islands
Vermentino from Sardinia

And a Grillo from Sicily

According to Vino Italiano, “the deepest expression of the grape is found among the Vermentino di Gallura DOCG wines” and we've got a beauty for you below.

Over the centuries, and up to quite recently, Sardinia (just like Italy in general) was going for quantity over quality in wine. For example Vino Italia says that in 1974, the island’s Trexenta Co-op made about 100,000 hectolitres from more than two thousand acres. By the early years of this century, they were producing 15,000 to 20,000 hectolitres from 700 acres approx.

No wonder then that The Modern History of Italian Wine, a book I keep referring to in this current series, hail Cantina Gallura in the zone of the same name, under director Dino Addis, as one of the most influential Italian wine-makers of the 1990s. The large co-operative was persuaded to reduce yield from 150 to 90 quintals. There were other changes, most noticeably “an immediate loss of income”.

But, “the courage to change” led to “a winning decision” and in 1996, they obtained the DOCG, “the first and only one in Sardinia”. 

Cantina Sociale Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Superiore (DOCG) Gemellae, 2013, 12%, €17.85 Le Caveau
Colour here is a light straw. There are modest white fruit aromas, floral notes too. Smooth, dry and fruity on the palate, a great depth of flavour (apple and melon) and concentration along with a long citrus-y finish. Good acidity too and they recommend trying it with fish dishes, vegetable soups, salads, and white meats. I found it excellent as an aperitif. Don't over-chill this gem, serve at 10-12 degrees and you'll have a very agreeable winner. Very Highly Recommended.

Cusumano Shamaris Grillo Sicilia (DOC) 2015, 13%, €18.95 (€14.95 on sale) O’Brien’s

A surprisingly excellent wine of no little heft, helped by four months on fine lees, from a modest grape, Grillo, that is supposed to be on the wane on the island of Sicily. US wine critic James Suckling regularly gives Shamaris good marks, including 91 points for this vintage.

It has a mid gold colour, bright. There are inviting white fruit aromas, blossom notes too. Fresh and lively fruit (including melon), good body, lovely balance, acidity of course and a decent finish. Highly Recommended.

According to The Modern History of Italian Wine (my current “bible” on the subject), Cusumano (founded in 2001) are one of the drivers of Italian wine in this century and “an extraordinary commercial success”. “There’s a piece of the land..in each of our labels”.  Their other varietals (which include Nero D’Avola) may well be worth watching out for.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Engaging Native Italian Trio

Engaging Italian Trio
All Natives!

Baglio Rosso Nero d’Avola, Terre Siciliane (IGP) 2014, 14%, €19.50 Le Caveau

This organic wine has undergone natural fermentation - without additional yeast - and is Highly Recommended. Colour is a very dark red, heading into black. Dark fruits and spice on the nose follow through to the palate, some savoury notes here too, plus excellent acidity. Fresh too, this fruity low intervention medium bodied wine is a delicious easy drinker.

Filippi “Castelcerino” Colli Scaligeri, Soave (DOC) 2014, 12.5%, €18.65 Le Caveau

This is quite an attractive wine, beginning with its medium gold colour. Aromas of fresh white fruit, hints of anise. White fruit flavours too, no shortage of minerality, elegant and fresh, quite smooth with a lingering finish, this light bodied biodynamic wine is Highly Recommended.

The main grape for Soave is Garganego, sometimes others are added. But not here. This is 100% Garganego, the fruit of 70 year old vines. It is also held on its lees for an extended period and they recommend pairing it with fish, salads, and light pasta dishes. An entry level wine but far from basic. Well worth a try.

Masi Campofiorin 2005 Rosso del Veronese (IGT), 13%, €17.50 (now at 14.95) for the 2008 version, Bradley’s Off Licence

An ageing potential of 10 to 15 years is flagged on the bottle, so I'm in pretty good time, I said to myself as I opened this gift from a friend. Colour is a ruby red and the aromas speak of warm ripe cherries. There follows a good concentration of cherries and berries, good acidity, very fine tannins and a decent finish. Highly Recommended.


This rich, smooth wine has spent 18 months in large oak barrels, is very approachable and versatile with food. It is made by re-passing (ripasso, sometimes also called double fermentation, is a method used to add more structure, body and flavour). The grapes used are Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, all native grapes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sicily The Ancient Land. New Blends.

Sicily. The Ancient Land.
New Blends from Wines Direct.



Wines Direct have a bunch of new wines just in, including these two beauties from Sicily.


Sicily, with a current population of about five millions, has had an amazing history. It was at the crossroads of the known world for centuries and the home of the female monster Scylla. You wouldn't want to meet her after a volcanic eruption. And another Sicilian, we Irish would have preferred not to have crossed paths with is Schillaci, the island’s most famous footballer! Sicilian cyclist Nibali was prominent in the just finished Tour de France.


But let's talk about these two wines and in particular two of its grape varieties: Nero d’Avola and Grillo. Vibrancy and freshness is what Daniela Molaro, winemaker at Feudo Luparello, is seeking and uses these two grapes to ensure a successful outcome. Nero d’Avola is probably the best known of the two and now important in other parts of Italy as well.



Grillo is a key grape in the making of Marsala, the island's well-known, if not now overly popular, fortified wine. Grillo’s robust nature (astringent, earthy, according to Jancis Robinson) is somewhat tamed in this blend with the oily Viognier and the result is a “succulent, well balanced wine”. Feudo Luparello is on the way to being certified as organic and could well be so some time next year.

Feudo Luparello Grillo Viognier 2015, Sicily (DOP), 13%, €16.75 (reduced to €15.85) Wines Direct
The lovely pale colour of this blend catches the eye and draws you in. You won't regret giving in to this temptation. Both white fruits and floral elements, much of which is contributed by the Viognier, feature in the aromas. The very pleasing palate experience also sees those white fruits in flavourful action, but it is bone dry with good acidity and with a long finalé. This refreshing medium bodied white is Highly Recommended.

The blend is of Grillo (c. 70%) and Viognier.

Feudo Luparello Nero d’Avola Syrah 2014, Sicily (DOP), 13.5%,  €16.75 (reduced to €15.85) Wines Direct
Colour is close to purple and there are rich red fruit aromas. The palate is fresh, with fruity flavours, well balanced, tannins close to fine; medium to full bodied, this dry red has an elegant mouthfeel and quite a finish. Quite a pleasant surprise and Very Highly Recommended.

The blend is Nero d’Avola (c. 70%) and Syrah.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HANDSOME SICILIAN


Feudo Montoni Catarratto Sicily 2009, IGT, 13%, €15.50 (Bubble Bros)

Catarratto is one of the most heavily planted grape varieties in Italy and yet is found only in Sicily but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything good written about it.

One of the most “positive” sentences I’ve seen on it comes in Hugh Johnson’s 2011 Pocket Wine Book: “Sicilian white grape with as yet unrealised potential”.

The winemakers at historic Feudo Montoni (well known for their Nero D’Avola reds) have realised some of that potential in this bottle and credit too to Bubble Brothers, who also sell the Nero D’Avola, for going with it.

Indeed, they are quite proud of it: “This is a feather in our white wine cap, and no mistake.  Made from old vines set high above sea level in north-eastern Sicily, Fabio Sireci's Catarratto combines citrus freshness with the substantial body and mellowness of Catarratto when grown with a special varietal wine in mind.

Despite taking full advantage of the torrid Sicilian sun to offer ripe, peachy fruit, this is a crisply focused dry wine with more edge and minerality than you might expect from the island, and a persistent finish in keeping with the overall impression of refined, opulent craftsmanship.”

The colour is that of pale honey with a pleasant if moderate aromatic nose. On the palate, you have a rich texture and perfect balance of fruitiness and acidity and a pleasant lengthy finish. Perhaps the fact that it is made from fifty year old vines had something to with the quality here.

If you are looking for a change from the usual white grapes, then this is well worth a try. Why not drop down to Bubble Bros in Centre Park Road and see if they have it on their multi-bottle temperature controlled tasting device?
By the way. I have added it to My Favourite Wines 2011.

Monday, July 25, 2011

GOOD DEAL AT BUBBLE BROTHERS


STILL AND BUBBLING

Temperature controlled tasting machine
Didn't realise Bubble Brothers, who started off as Champagne importers in the 1990s, were so strong in Sicilian Wines until I made call to their Centrepark Road Headquarters last week. 

It turned out to be a very pleasant interlude indeed as I enjoyed the chat and the help in picking out a few whites.

I did some homework on my search on their website which, in fairness, is easy  to navigate. There are quite a few headings for searching wines (country, colour, grape and so on) and they also do some non-wine products such as beer and coffee.

As I said, I was on the prowl for white and, armed with one of these Living Social Deals (€15.00 bought me a 30 euro voucher), I called to the well laid out shop.  The first thing that caught my eye was their Taste before you Buy facility, made possible by their state of the art temperature controlled tasting machine where some 16 bottles can be open at any one time. Very impressive indeed.

My shortlist contained just three. I had seen the 2010 Picpoul de Pinet  (12.00) recommended. I wanted to see how their Costieres de Nimes 2010  (€13.00) compares with some of my recent bottles in Provence. They themselves highly recommend their 2010 Sicilian Montoni Catarrato  (€15.50) and that was my third choice. All three were in stock and I’ll be sampling them soon. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Another advantage of calling to Centrepark Road, aside from the tasting facility, is that you can buy by the case and, if you do, you get two bottles free. If you can’t get down the Marina, don't forget they have a stall in the English Market and, of course, you may also order online.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

THREE LEGS - THREE REDS

THREE FROM SICILY 
Three legs in the Sicilian flag and three reds in this post.
Italians, they say, love their rules. But it is in the way that George Bernard Shaw loved work: “I love work. I could watch it all day.”  Sicilians produce plenty of wine but only about a fifth of it under DOC regulations, much more of it under the looser Indicazione Geografica Tipica regime, the step above table wine.
If you go