Wineblog Wednesday #8
Sicily’s Reds- Meeting Ground of the Two Worlds
Most people tend to favor either New World fruit, ripeness and vivacity, or classic Euro elegance and finesse. This line can be at times fuzzy, as the terroir influenced character of a country’s wine is tweeked by winemaking style, but Old and New World wines remain inarguably distinct and are justly caricaturized. I love Sicily because it so effortlessly seems to bridge this divide.
It is firmly grounded in it’s viticultural history, producing stylish though sometimes austere wines with the indigenous Nero D’Avola. But they do the international varietals with a blast of new world enthusiasm, with just enough sweetness to satisfy the ‘jammies,’ and not turn off the classic, French wine-lover. Planeta comes to mind with their juicy trio of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. All three have super ripe fruit, a good dose of wood and silky tannins; but something always remains unmistakingly Italian about the juice. So here’s to Sicily (my friend fell in love there), and here’s my Nero and a Cabernet that I drank over the last couple of days.
Passomagio 2002, Santa Anastasia ($26…importation)
A blend of 80% Nero and 20% Merlot, the Passomagio is a perfect example of how well Sicilian reds can straddle the divide. Classic Nero D’Avola odors complimented by ripe Merlot fruit, the bouquet reminded me of walking through the forest in late fall, of decomposing leaves and mushrooms. It had a touch of white pepper and an allusion to residual sugar. It had a great texture,with soft, integrated tannins and an earthiness that finished with a hint of jammy plums. At L’eau we served it with a Guinea Hen dosed with black truffle, and it worked magnificemtly.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Fazio ($29…saq)
From the western tip of the island and high up the slopes of Mount Erice, this was an interesting drink. I had previously drunk a way too ripe Muller-Thurgau from the same house (Germanic white grapes should probably stay in the north), but in the spirit of discovery I sprung for the Cab. It started with notes of sweet blackberry and cassis, with a hint of a vanilla smokiness that gave it some depth. A bit thick on the palette, it had just enough acidity to keep it from getting too heavy. As we got through the bottle, the fruit lost it’s brightness and was slowly replaced by black tea, cooked fruit, and spice. I preferred the fresher first half so this is not a bottle to carafe (as I had for 1 hour before diving in).
It was okay, but I would have preferred a Planeta.