The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2016

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Page 79 of 148

january-february 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  79 Equally important is a focus on indigenous grapes. Grillo and Nero d'Avola, two of Sicily's most versatile native grape varieties, are central to Stemmari's brand. "Nero d'Avola is the most celebrated red varietal on the island," says Rusty Pape, who is in charge of Stemmari's North and South American sales. "It just works so well in Sicily. It's a grape that can withstand the island's hot, southern European climate." Grillo, which is normally used for Marsala production, also benefits from Sicily's climate, which lends body to this varietal. "Grillo has beautiful acid balance and gives off characters of peach and nectarines," says Pape. In addition to the Nero d'Avola and Grillo, Stemmari makes varietal wines from Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, as well as blends. The "Dalila" white blend features Grillo and Viognier, and the red blend "Cantodoro" brings together Nero d'Avola and Cabernet Sauvignon. The names of these wines reference a Sicilian love story. Pape explains, "Cantodoro was a musician, and a laborer in the fields. He won Dalila's heart by his hard work ethic. It's a story of endurance, of love, of new beginnings, such as what Sicily is undertaking." Stemmari built its first winery in Sambuca di Sicilia, in the Agrigento province to the south of Palermo, followed by another in Acate, in the province of Ragusa on Sicily's southeastern coast. At these properties, prac- tices such as building the wineries underground, where natural coolness reduced the need for energy use, and installing solar panels were employed. These efforts have earned Stemmari certification from the third- party Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS, developed by the European Commission)—only the second winery in Italy to do so. "We're doing all we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, such as using locally produced materials and making efforts to recycle. Soil management is just as important, " says Pape. Taking a cue from biodynamic principles, native Sicilian veccia and favino beans were planted in between the vines on Stemmari's properties to help replenish nitrogen in soil. This new beginning has caught the world's atten- tion—wine consumers everywhere are becoming familiar with grapes like Nero d'Avola. "Sicily has been producing wine for 2,000 years, but it's only in the last 15 years or so that Sicily started to concentrate more on fine wine production versus volume produc- tion," explains Pape. With five single-varietal wines, two high-end blends, a rosé made from 100% Nero d'Avola, and a sparkling wine—Baci Vivaci, made from 100 percent Grillo—the Stemmari portfolio offers a wine for every palate. Baci Vivaci is similar to a Moscato, with 8.5 grams of residual sugar, and was introduced to the global market in February of 2014. In 2016, both the Nero d'Avola and Grillo varietal wines will take on the Sicilia DOC appellation. It's an exciting moment for Sicilian wine, and Stemmari's leadership in promoting indigenous varieties and sustainable wine production lays out a promising future for the island. PHOTO COURTESY OF STEMMARI PHOTO COURTESY OF STEMMARI PHOTO COURTESY OF STEMMARI Nero d'Avola is central to Stemmari's brand. "Grillo has beautiful acid balance and gives off characters of peach and nectarines," says Rusty Pape, who is in charge of Stemmari's North and South American sales.

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