Sicily. Steeped in heritage. My heritage.
Yes, my Father’s family hailed from a small hamlet called Castellamare del Golfo on the Western tip of Sicily. Very nearby were the towns of Trapani and Palermo where we had cousins and various other friends that may as well been family, but the center of the ancestral universe was Castellamare del Golfo. Therefore, over the next few weeks, I’m going to spotlighting some of the most recent releases that call Sicily home, beginning with today’s article.
Growing premium wine grapes in Sicily’s often harsh climate can be challenging. The heat can often impart a roasted quality to the wines that producers often struggle to manage. In the past, the focus lay with quantity. However, recent years have seen more producers focusing on growing quality grapes and striving to make delicious wines from many of Sicily’s indigenous varietals.
Headquartered in Trapani, Firriato is one of these producers and despite being relatively new to wine production, the estate was started in the late 1980’s, they have quickly risen to the top as one of the more prominent producers in Sicily. The husband and wife team of Salvatore di Gaetano and Vinizia Novara have made it their mission to produce quality wines from vineyard to cellar. They are succeeding.
“Quality and passion. These are the guiding principles for our entire world starting with our land, cultivated with love and skill, through to the wine cellar and relationships with our partners and clients.”
Today we’re putting that love and passion to the test with a wine that hails from Firriato’s estate in western Sicily called Dagala Borromeo. The wine gets its name from the Palazzo Chiaramonte which has been a symbol of religious and political power over the centuries and today is the standard bearer for culture in Sicily because it is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. It is with respect for this glorious past that this single varietal Nero d’Avola wine is born.
The 2015 Firriato Chiaramonte Nero d’Avola is a pretty, deep violet color. 100% Nero d’avola, the wine exhibits a lovely floral nose that turns to crushed black cherry and hints of sea air. Bright and airy on the palate, this is well balanced. Flavors echo the nose and add weight as the wine airs. Eucalyptus, fennel, and saline notes join on the palate and the finish is long and smooth. There’s nothing not to like here especially when factoring in the price. 91 points. $15 at most and a big time value. Special note: Finished the bottle on Day 2 and it hadn’t lost a step. Always a good sign to me. Firriato is on their game! Find this wine.
There will be more to come from Sicily. Different locales, different producers, different grapes and some pairing recipes. Stay tuned!