My phone rang the other day and a good friend was on the other end along with his 2 year old daughter. He said, “I just opened a bottle of Chinon and this kid already has a nose for wine. She said the wine smells like flowers.” I’m not sure flowery is the right tasting note for Loire Cab Franc, but an impressive attempt for a 2-year old!
If she’s any indication of the future of wine drinkers, then Big Wine should take notice. Her already well-developed palate clearly prefers more delicate reds with nerve and energy. The purple plonk jacked up with oak chips passing for wine in the grocery store won’t do for this rising consumer.
It was a nice segue to my bottle for that Friday evening. I have heard a lot recently about the wine Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG from the Southeastern region of Siciliy. I happened upon a 2016 bottle discounted from $30 to $15 at my local wine shop and jumped on the chance to try it.
I was intrigued to learn that the label and name is a tribute to legendary Italian fashion designer Giambista Valli. Feudi di del Pisciotto collaborated with a range of Italian designers for their labels and donate a portion of the proceeds restoring Sicilian art.
CdV, as I now like to call it, is a unique wine. By law it can only be made from 50-70% Nero D’Avola and the remainder from the Frappato varietal. The former, often blended with Bordeaux varietals, forms the backbone of some of Sicily’s greatest and most age-worthy reds. It lends heft, color, and tannin. The Frappato on the other hand is there to provide lightness and freshness. Frappato is often made as single varietal wine as well.
These wines never see new oak and sometimes are raised in amphorae, in a nod to the Greeks that preceded today’s modern winemakers. In this case, the wine spent time in spent French oak barrels.
The interesting and very Italian thing about “rules” like CdV is that the outcome can be drastically different depending on the blend and winemaking practices. This wine from Fuedi del Pisciotto was 40% Frappato. However, it was more light and fresh than expected, reminiscent of a Gamay or even a lighter-bodied Pinot. I’m sure there are examples of CdV that show much more of the brooding dark fruit of Nero D’Avola, but this was a delightful surprise to my lighter-leaning palate.
I drank it without food, but the wine’s lively acidity, cherry red fruit, and long stony finish would be a perfect match for cheeses, and light meat preparations.
Most wine writers I trust say that Sicily is the most exciting Italian region for both reds and whites today. This wine showed me why. Producers there are on the cutting edge among Italian winemakers in letting their unique soils and native grapes shine through, without much adulteration.
This is also a great example of the wines that fit my Pondering Italy theme. The wine has energy, nerve, and a little bit of mystery. I am not even going to try to define what that mystery is … I just know it when I find it. It’s mostly found in Italian wine and increasingly in the unique wines of Sicily. It also meets my value criteria if you can find it under $20 like I did.
Hopefully when my dear friend’s daughter reaches drinking age, Cerasuolo di Vittoria will be widely available to her.