The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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january/february 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  91 maker's to pair with the Stemmari Nero d'Avola is pasta alla norma, a distinctly-Sicilian preparation with eggplant and Pecorino cheese. The Stemmari wines carry the new DOC Sicilia appellation—an official designation Stemmari took the lead in establishing to give Sicily's wines their own place in the international market—and their modest price point makes them all the more attractive. Matricardi sums up the Stemmari project succinctly: "These are wines with 2,000 years of supporting evolution, grown and crafted in a modern and yet authen- tic Sicilian style." Stemmari is imported by Prestige Wine Imports. Nero d'Avola also constituted 80% of Stemmari's first red blend, Cantodoro, along with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. "In the Cantodoro, we experimented to give Nero d'Avola more structure, more power, more longevity," explains Matricardi. "But even when you cultivate Nero d'Avola on richer soil, you will never reach 'Schwarzenegger' power"—hence the addition of oak-aged Cabernet. In an effort to explore Nero d'Avola's more feminine side, Matricardi also produces the lovely Stemmari Rosé made entirely from the variety. Made for Cuisine A true and distinct food-friendliness is one of the most appealing aspects of Nero d'Avola (and also of its white Sicilian counterpart, Grillo). "Its natural acid keeps the wine alive, even with heavy foods such as salami and cheese," notes Matricardi, who practices night harvesting to avoid high daytime temperatures brought in from the African Scirocco winds. "So many cultures have arrived in Sicily, and its foods come from all over the world: Lebanese couscous, eggplant, lamb, pork, veal, fish, octopus, and arancini [Sicilian stuffed rice balls]." A personal favorite of the wine- Stemmari 2016 Grillo ($10) The tropical-scented Grillo ("cricket") is Sicily's most famous white varietal. Pair with baked fish or veal carpaccio. Stemmari 2015 Nero d'Avola ($10) The versatile Nero d'Avola is the island's calling-card varietal. Stemmari's version is an ideal match for roasted meats and for Sicilian foods such as arancini. Stemmari 2015 Cantodoro ($15) This ripe, concentrated blend of 80% Nero d'Avola and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon is a natural choice with grilled meats. Stemmari 2016 Rosé ($10) The 100% Nero d'Avola Rosé shows the strawberry notes typical of this grape. Charming as an apéritivo with appetizers. Stemmari's Grillo and its three Nero d'Avola–based wines are wonderful discoveries as we head into the new year. New Year, New Wines january/february 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  91 Gruppo Mezzacorona invested $150 million to establish the Stemmari winery.

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