The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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16 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015 { planet grape } FULL AND POWERFUL Planeta 2008 Santa Cecilia, Noto DOC ($35) This Bordeaux-like 100% Nero d'Avola has notes of cedar, cinnamon, carob, black cherry, raspberry, sundried tomato, green olive, leather and tobacco. It has ripe fruit, juicy acidity and firm tannins. PALM BAY INTERNATIONAL Tasca d'Almerita 2008 Rosso del Conte, Contea di Sclafani DOC ($70) First pro- duced in the '60's by Count Guiseppe Tasca, Rosso del Conte was one of the first seri- ous, oak-aged Sicilian reds. Aged 18 months in barrique and another 12 months in bottle before release, this is truly an iconic wine. It has notes of cedar, vanilla, strawberry jam, tomato sauce, cumin, savory stewed meats, orange rind, red licorice, thyme and laven - der, and is elegant and well-structured with firm tannins and gentle balancing acidity. WINEBOW Donnafugata 2008 Mille e una Notte, Contessa Entellina Rosso DOC ($89) From the Rallo family's Contessa Entellina clay- and limestone-based estate in south- western Sicily, this serious, barrique- and bottle-aged offering has notes of cassis, blackberry, cherry, orange rind, stewed tomato, zucchini, earth, mulch, tobacco, cigar box, heady, musky perfume (think Opium), new car and leather furniture. It is elegant and complex and has a long life ahead. FOLIO FINE WINE PARTNERS MEDIUM-BODIED AND SPICY Planeta 2011 Cerasuola di Vittoria DOCG ($30) This blend of 60% Nero d'Avola and 40% Frappato is widely available and a great introduction to the modern reds of Sicily. It is smoky with ripe dark berry, chocolate-covered cherry, Ghana dark chocolate , vanilla, cedar spice, Sumatra coffee, black licorice, fennel seed, braised meats, bacon, clove-studded orange and pork rind. PALM BAY INTERNATIONAL Tenuta Rapitalà 2011 Nero d'Avola Campo Reale, Sicilia IGT ($16) Complex and invit- ing with notes of raspberry, cherry com- pote, pomegranate, mandarin orange, sun- dried tomato, rhubarb, ragout, cinnamon Red Hots candy, red licorice, fennel seed, dark bitter chocolate, cigar box, cumin, dried leaves and leather. FREDERICK WILDMAN AND SONS Valle dell'Acate 2010 Cerasuola di Vittoria Classico DOCG ($23) This blend of 70% Nero d'Avola and 30% Frappato is elegant and soft spoken with notes of cherry, stewed tomato, brown mushroom, pipe tobacco, black licorice, black tea leaves, oregano, sage, thyme and fine black pepper dust. The structure is Bordeaux- like, with soft fine tannins and gentle but persistent acidity. Black raisin and fig domi - nate the finish. POLANER SELECTIONS LIGHT AND ELEGANT Cusumano 2012 Benuara, Terre Siciliana IGT ($18) Robust, full-bodied and slightly chewy, with notes of sour cherry, fig, plum, earth, tar, button mushroom, turmeric, cori - ander seed, sesame seed and celery. TERLATO WINES Masseria del Feudo Il Giglio 2011 Nero d'Avola Sicilia IGT ($16.50) With notes of strawberry, cherry pie, Fanta orange soda and Creamsicle, this could initially be mis- taken for a New World wine, yet distinct notes of tinder, moss, damp earth and salami bring it home to Italy. USA WINE WEST/GREGORY CONDES WINES Lovers of esoteric grapes have plenty to choose from in Italy. One of those grapes, however, is enjoy - ing a popularity that puts it squarely in the ranks of Italy's top reds. Nero d'Avola, Sicily's prime red grape, is now in the country's top five, joining Nebbiolo (Barolo), Sangiovese (Brunello), Corvina (Amarone) and Aglianico (Taurasi). It forms 50–70% of the blend of Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG in Ragusa, and is stunning on its own from the coastal village of Noto in Siracusa. With inviting notes of black cherry, blueberry, violet and earth, Nero d'Avola is pleasing even to a New World palate, though it is gen - erally much lighter in body. Oaked versions take on a sleek, supple character. Keep in mind the Italians drink wine with food, not as a cocktail, so even the ripest, oakiest wines have tart acidity and bitter notes. Here are my top picks. PHOTO COURTESY OF FEUDO MACCARI Black Beauty SICILY'S SIGNATURE NERO D'AVOLA COMES IN A RANGE OF STYLES AND PRICES by Catherine Fallis, MS

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