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Sicily

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Sicily



A mere generation ago, there mightn't have been much to say here about Sicilian wine.  Apart from Marsala, the reds were mostly sold in bulk to fatten up pale wines from cooler European vintages, or lost in the production of vermouth somewhere. 

But with it's special place at the confluence of Mediterranean and North African cultures, there's been a modern day renaissance in wine and food here that is nothing short of a remarkable.  Australians have an affinity for this blend of warm Mediterranean climate, migrant culture and vibrant food.  Sicily just makes sense. 

Red or white?
Red production is dominated by Nero d'Avola, grown in most regions across the island. Ranging  from juicy medium bodied cherry fruited styles blended with the lighter Frappato, to sturdy dark, structured and plummy numbers that will appeal to Shiraz lovers.

Nerello Mascalese is exciting for its structured, fragrant and tannic wines, coming on high from the steep volcanic slopes of the still very active Mount Etna.  

Surprisingly, there's also plenty of white planted here, chief among them Carricante. Distinctively refreshing with notes of smoke, cut herbs and lemon tonic. 

Grapes
Carricante, Grillo, Nero d'Avola, Frappato, Nerello Mascalese

Favourite Producers
Occhipinti, COS, Terre Nere, Tenuta Aglaea, Feudo Montoni, Planeta, De Bartoli, Girolamo Russo, Passopisciaro


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  1. Sensale Grillo 2020
    Sensale Grillo 2020
    IF you don't know it Grillo is a native to the island of Sicily and the Sensale bottling from Cantine Europa has to be one of the best value options around. The wine comes from the western part of the island and is made without any use of oak and is deliberately styled for early and easy drinking.

    Notes of citrus, pear and stone fruits open with a bit of sea-spray action that lends a slightly salty twang to both the nose and pallet. There is definitely a bit of flesh and punchy fruit with citrus to the fore followed by a little stone fruit and minerally hit. We love the way the fruit and savoury clip play off each other in the mouth and just a little hint of bitterness make this the perfect pairing to Mediterranean seafood. Mwah!
    2020
    Grillo
    Italy
    482
  2. Poggio Anima Primitivo Salento Lilith 2018
    Poggio Anima Primitivo Salento Lilith 2018
    Poggio Anima is a joint venture between one of Tuscany's rising stars, Riccardo Campinoti of Le Ragnaie in Montalcino, and his U.S.A. importer Ronnie Sanders of Vine Street Imports. The Poggio Anima concept is straightforward: to source great vineyards from existing relationships and produce real wines which convey the ‘soul’ (anima) of each site and each grape variety.

    The wines are not ‘bulk’ wines or leftover juice, but rather they are the result of long-standing relationships with respected growers throughout Italy. In packaging the Poggio Anima wines, Ronnie and Riccardo wanted to focus on the omnipresent dichotomy in the world between good and evil, and the everyday quest for balance in all things, including wine! The Eastern ideology of Yin Yang is the core of this ‘balance’ in the Poggio Anima concept. Poggio Anima are real wines, from real places, made by real people.

    Deep dark red colour with black tinged edges and a dark red hue. Spicy red currant aromas intermix with earth, dried herbs and hints of tobacco. Medium bodied, savoury dark cherry and ripe red currant flavours meld into cedary tobacco and spicy dried herb characters with lovely, fresh acidity. PWS
    2018
    Red
    Italy
    482
  3. Tenuta Aglaea 'Aglaea' 2019
    Tenuta Aglaea 'Aglaea' 2019
    A blend of small pockets on the volcanic slopes of Etna, this is a lovely introduction to nerello mascalese. The 2019 shows darker depths of black fruits with some minerally ferrous tones. Its linear palate shows great tensity and carry, moving into  meaty  savoury flavours. A  crescendo of tannins on the finish reminds you of its cooler origins  - it comes from vines up to 800m in altitude. GABRIELLE POY, PWS 
    2019
    Nerello Mascalese
    Italy
    482
  4. Aldo Viola Terre Siciliane Syrah "Guarini" 2013
    Aldo Viola Terre Siciliane Syrah "Guarini" 2013
    Yes, of course, I know: starting with a syrah from North-West Sicily could sound a bit provoking after all, with all those South-East Australian shirazes you guys have down under there… but I do like challenges, and Aldo Viola is by far the Rhôniest  of all Italian attempts at this beautiful grape - zero sulphites added, freshness, crispiness, graphite, and a touch of madness. The entry level wine (label with ladybird and green leaf) is matured in stainless steel vats only, whereas the "Plus" version is aged in French oak tonneaux (Aldo's training as both winedrinker and winemaker was heavily inspired by Southern France style, he actually got his vine cuttings in Tain l'Hermitage…). TABARRO
    2013
    shiraz
    Italy
    482
  5. Tenuta Aglaea Etna Rosso Thalia 2017
    Tenuta Aglaea Etna Rosso Thalia 2017
    Tenuta Aglaea is a tiny estate on the North side of Etna covering only 1.8 hectares across three vineyard sites; the miniscule and excellent vineyard Bocca d’Orzo (.3 ha) in the zone of Randazzo combined with Passo Cannone (1 ha) and Santo Spirito (.5 ha) in the zone of Passopisciaro. A new vineyard has also been replanted (Passo Cannone) and will be in full production in 2019. Owned by longtime wine professional Anne-Louise Mikkelssen the estate is all about meticulaous attetion to detail and her philosophy of having the wines be a faithful expression of the terroir.

    What makes this wine 'Thalia' great is that this representation of place is undeniable. High up on the slopes of Mount Enta on the Italian Island of Sicily, Nerello Mascalese is grown in mineral rich volcanic soils. The soil made up eruptive materials such of lava, sand and ash along with the altitude restrict the vigour of the vine producing a concentrated yet vibrant refreshing red. 

    The tell-tale grilled cherry and smokey herb with a wild ferrous note. Lifted and pretty but wild at the same time. This wine is gentle and soft yet with great purity and length, the perfect summer drinking red. PWS

    2017
    Nerello Mascalese
    Italy
    482
  6. Terre Nere Etna Rosato 2020
    Terre Nere Etna Rosato 2020
    The 2020 Etna Rosato lifts up wonderfully fresh and perfumed, offering notes of sweet peach and white smoke backed by honeyed florals and wedges of candied lime. It's silky-smooth and round yet spry, washing nuances of ripe pear and nectarine across a core of saturating saline-minerality. There's simply so much going on here for a Rosato as the 2020 punches well above its class, finishing incredibly long yet juicy, and fizzling out to hints of sour citrus and cheek-puckering green apple. ERIC GUIDO
    2020
    Italy
    482
  7. Terre Nere Etna Bianco 2020
    Terre Nere Etna Bianco 2020
    The moment I put my nose to the glass, I questioned if this was just the entry-level 2020 Etna Bianco. Crushed stone and sea shells give way to nectarine, mint and a hint of vanilla bean to create a wildly attractive and Burgundian bouquet. On the palate, this speaks more in whispers, soft and subtle yet pleasantly sweet, contrasting ripe orchard fruits against vibrant acidity, and with gobs of minerality that sneakily collect toward the close. The medium-long finish is clean and refreshing, as hints of raw almond and pretty inner florals slowly taper off. This blend of 60% Carricante, 25% Catarratto, 10% Grecanico and 5% Minnella shines bright in the 2020 vintage. ERIC GUIDO
    2020
    Italy
    482
  8. Tenuta Aglaea Contrada Santo Spirito Etna Rosso 2015
    Tenuta Aglaea Contrada Santo Spirito Etna Rosso 2015

    Like most Italophile wine drinkers, in recent years I've been captivated by the wines coming off the side of Europe's tallest active volcano, Mt Etna in Sicily. Its a pretty evocative place to start with, I mean it's vineyards on the side of a volcano...you get what I'm saying here! But beyond the setting, the wines are captivating and unique.

    The first release of the Santo Spirito from tiny producer Tenuta Aglaea is as good as it gets. Rose petals, lavender, mint and woodsy spice give way to a backbeat blast of black mineral sand and a little vanillin and bramble. The palate is a mixture of crunchy red and black fruits and spice that sit within a textured/slippery palate until the fine tannins grab a hold coaxing the wine to through to a long and really fine end point. The hacneyed descriptor of these wines being the "Baroli of the South" is hard to avoid with this wine such is the interplay between delicacy and power. It's gorgeous now but it will get better in the cellar for 8 years. MICHAEL MCNAMARA, PWS

    Santo Spirito is my first official single vineyard wine. It derives from the vineyard and province of Santo Spirito – a vineyard made up of terrasses held up by ancient dry-built stone walls. The vines are trained by the Alberello system, and grow at 600 – 800 m. (1.200 – 2.400 feet) above sea level.

    The wine to me is a prime example of the essence of Etna at its best: the boost of the mineral lava notes, the mix of mature red fruit, flowers and a touch of spice – a complex and evolving set of flavours that go together to form a very elegant, very balanced wine. Santo Spirito is finesse. ANNE-LOUISE MIKKELSSEN

    2015
    Nerello Mascalese
    Italy
    482
  9. Passopisciaro Contrada Porcaria 2014
    Passopisciaro Contrada Porcaria 2014
    Good bright ruby-red. Very pure, super-ripe aromas of dark cherry, smoked beef, mocha and menthol. Rich, ripe and sweet on the palate, offering chewy dark fruit, red cherry jam and blood orange nectar flavors. Finishes big and meaty, delivering serious but fine-grained tannins and very good length. This decidedly opulent, plush wine has a super-ripe, air-dried quality to it and will be a big favorite of those who like Amarone and similarly styled wines. Mainly Nerello Mascalese. IAN D'AGATA, Vinous Media
    2014
    Nerello Mascalese
    Italy
    482
  10. Passopisciaro Contrada Porcaria 2017
    Passopisciaro Contrada Porcaria 2017
    Showing volume and generosity in terms of its aromatic delivery, the 2017 Contrada P is a mid-weight expression with forthcoming and immediate fruit aromas. Fruit is sourced from the Contrada Porcaria. The wine holds nothing back and instead delivers wild rose, cassis, aniseed and licorice. I love the carefree intensity and honesty with which this wine presents itself. There is a very subtle note of crushed white pepper on the close. MOINCA LARNER, Wine Advocate

    Wild cherry, crushed mint, forest floor and graphite aromas shape the nose on this gorgeous wine along with an earthy whiff of new leather. It's full bodied and elegantly structured, doling out Marasca cherry, raspberry compote, licorice and flinty mineral alongside enveloping, velvety tannins. (97) KERIN O'KEEFE, Wine Enthusiast
    2017
    Nerello Mascalese
    Italy
    482
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