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Showing posts with label Sicily. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sicily. Show all posts

21 June 2022

June wines of the moment

A mixed baker's dozen (plus) of wines worth taking bad photos of...
M&S 'Found' Weißburgunder 2021, Pfalz Germany (12.5% abv): Or Pinot Blanc to use its more familiar French name (Pinot Bianco in Italy). This juicy zesty pear and nectarine tinged dry white is from talented winemaker Gerd Stepp, who's made other tasty 'modern' German wines for Marks including delicious Riesling and Pinot Noir. Resembles Alsace Pinot Blanc in style but with more flavour. £9.50

16 February 2022

Four whites and a Pinot Noir

Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo Viognier 2020 Sicilia (organic, 13.5% abv): Another delicious Grillo-based bottle from Sicily - click here and here for more of those - this time with 30% Viognier added, which ups the exotic apricot and peach flavours with full palate weight, yeast-lees edges and appealing amount of freshness. Wine Society £8.25.

01 November 2021

The Wine Society: 3 whites, 3 rosés, 3 reds.

These nine varied wines are available from the Wine Society in the UK (and some of them from other wine stores and in other countries), which I became a member of recently, and represent my favourites from a first mixed case purchased (I picked each wine but you can order from several pre-selected options).

20 May 2021

Miscellaneous wines of the moment

An enticing half-a-dozen of whites, red and rosés sourced from big supermarkets and one-store independents priced £7 to £10 in the UK.

Vara Rosé 2020 Cramele Recas Estate, Romania (12% abv) - Good-value dry and zingy rosé made from 65% Merlot and 35% Feteasca Neagra, which develops creamy straw-raspberry flavours followed by crisper cranberry type crunchiness. £7 Marks & Spencer (image from their site). Versatile with food.

05 March 2021

Sicily: Ragusa and Agrigento

Aruci Aruci caffetteria, gelateria & Casa Siciliana Trattoria - Scicli, Ragusa province.

A few reminiscences, sightseeing tips, places to stay, photos and a little food and wine condensed from a lucky-break week spent in Sicily last September in between Covid restriction lockdowns. The plan was to avoid big towns and cities (so no Palermo or Catania this time unfortunately), hire a car, stay in the middle of nowhere and not tour around too much (pretty much the opposite of a 'normal' holiday), which part of the south of the gorgeous island provided a perfect backdrop for (Ragusa province and Agrigento a couple of hours up the coast).

04 August 2017

Italian wines @ Lidl

Lidl (UK) continues to be 'on a roll' (seeded bap, wholemeal or ciabatta more likely?) with another new batch of its special Italian wine buys now in store (the posher ones in the wooden bins), although some of these are bound to be available in Lidl Ireland stores too and elsewhere in Europe. Mind you, a slight mystery lingers a casa mia regarding one Lidl white from the Campania region enjoyed and reviewed a few weeks ago, Sassi del Mare Falanghina 2016, which we tried again recently although it was £1 more, had an extra 0.5% abv and appeared to be in a heavier bottle (from memory), but it just wasn't as good somehow? Or was it 'just a dream within a dream' (as the Propaganda song sort-of said)? In any case, here are a few more Italian whites and reds worth looking out for at Lidl, some of them commendably unusual and hard to find; hopefully you'll get the same wine as I did. And the 'message' here is spending more than a fiver, even towards ten, does reap rewards. Image copied from www.lidl.de, where you'll find better information on these wines if your German is up to it - you're lucky to even find them on their UK site!

Masseria Metrano Fiano 2016, Salento IGT Puglia (12.5% abv) - Fiano is another star white grape variety, more commonly found in and probably originates from Campania (or Sicily?), but obviously capable of great things 'over the other side' in Puglia (Apulia seems to be the 'English' term although looks like Latin to me). At £7.99, it's fairly dear for Lidl but definitely worth the money with plenty of depth of flavour and texture too, aromatic and rich yet elegant.
Corte Allodola Terre del Vulcano 2016, Soave Classico DOC (12.5% abv) - A good example of 'gets what you pay for', since this tasty zesty and quite intense Soave is £6.99, obviously a couple of quid or so dearer than the many often rather bland examples usually found on the lower shelves. Very nice with trout or salmon.
Musita Grillo 2016, Sicilia DOC (13% abv) - At least I think it was this one with the eye-catching white label and arty vine drawing rather than the slightly cheaper one they do, this one being £5.99. Delivers what you'd expect from this lovely Sicilian white grape, quite apricot-y and honeysuckle-edged flavours, and nice mouth-feel combining weight with freshness.
Vigna la Capa Riserva 2014, Brindisi DOP (13.5% abv) - Not sure what the correct UK price is, as I paid £5.99 since that's what it said on the shelf-ticket (bargain, serves them right for not checking), but it scanned at £7.99 (probably more likely given it costs €6.99 in Germany with their low taxes on wine?). Sumptuous southern red brimming with ripe dried fruits and liquorice, lightly smoky with fairly soft tannins and a bit of oomph. Good with grilled Angus burgers and organic wholewheat pasta filled with potato and porcini mushrooms (man), also bought in Lidl. Made from old-vine Negroamaro grapes (50 year-old vineyards translating from the label in my best Italian) from a smaller area of Puglia around the town of Brindisi.
Montejanu 2015 Cannonau di Sardegna DOP (13.5% abv) - Cannonau is actually what they call Grenache or Garnacha in Sardinia (linguistically mind-boggling as it is) and isn't so easy to find over here. Not the finest example perhaps, with its lightly rustic 'volatile' edges, but tasty enough summer quaffing red with sweet and spicy fruit. £5.99
Other Italian reds to look out for in Lidl, available on and off:
South: Ciro Classico Superiore Riserva (from Calabria). North: Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva (Trentino); Valpolicella Ripasso (the black label one).

18 August 2016

White grape varieties 'of the moment'

Updated 03.09.16 - see two wines added at the bottom (Oz Viognier and Chile Chardy)...

Workhorse Chenin Blanc 2015 Stellenbosch South Africa (13.5% abv): Made by Chenin maestro Ken Forrester for Marks & Spencer, this dry white shows a bit of class and character with honeyed melon vs yeasty tones, fairly rich yet has fresh finish too. £8.50

23 July 2016

Italy: Sicily, Puglia, Veneto, Trentino

Here's an easy-to-find pick of Italian 'wines of the moment', including a red and white pair each from the far south and far north...

Grillo 2015 Terre Siciliane IGP - Sicily (13% abv): Grillo is a fab and fairly rare white grape variety; well-made tasty examples like this one are quite rich and rounded with aromatic peach and apricot fruit, lightly spicy and zesty on the finish too. £7.50 Marks & Spencer.
'Vigna la cupa' 2013 Salice Salentino DOC Riserva - Puglia (13.5% abv): Made from the local Negroamaro variety, meaning 'bitter black', this sunny red has a wild mix of very ripe cherries, dark chocolate, liquorice and more savoury, earthy, rustic and tobacco notes; quite full-on and firm palate vs nice sweet/savoury finish. £6.99 Lidl.

Pinot Grigio 2015 Trentino DOC, CaVit - Trentino-Alto Adige (12.5% abv) - This juicy fragrant and nutty white shows there's more to PG if you look beyond the big brand offers. Asda £6.
Amarone della Valpolicella 2012 DOCG, Monteforte d'Alpone - Veneto (14.5% abv): Special occasion red - or why not push the boat out with posh BBQ food - crafted from dried grapes (a classic local blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara) giving plenty of body and rich flavours. Asda £16 (sometimes on offer for a few quid less though).

15 August 2013

Sicily: Bosco Falconeria

This Sicilian estate winery's full title is Bosco Falconeria Azienda biologica Simeti Taylor (goes to their Facebook page, where I pinched the photo from), hence the "Simeti Taylor organic farm." Found near Partinico a good trek to the west of Palermo "in the hills overlooking the Gulf of Castellammare", farm is very much the right word; as you can see from the fresh mulberries below, they grow a variety of fruit, veg and nuts here as well as wine grapes, and have done organically for almost 25 years.


This old family property was resurrected in the 1970s as a holiday home initially, then brought back into production in the 80s by Antonio Simeti, an agricultural specialist, and his American wife Mary Taylor. The estate is now managed by Natalia Simeti and her husband Rami Salo, a Finnish Tai Chi Chuan instructor - that should come in handy for handling the stress at harvest time! They also run courses and seminars in this ancient Chinese body and mind art, by the way. And there's a market on the first Sunday of the month... this place sounds interesting, will have to go there some day... Anyway, here's what I said about three of their wines:

2011 Catarratto white - nutty with crisp appley notes, pretty fresh on the palate layered with nice nutty richness & intensity.
2011 Falco Peregrino white (Catarratto fermented on the skins, no added sulphur dioxide) - more exotic and perfumed, light bitter apricot character then softer finish, again refreshing acidity with good depth of fruit and more nutty flavours on the finish. Good stuff, unusual.
2011 Nero d'Avola red - it was a little 'baked' when I tried it (could have been open too long / too warm) with rather firm tannins. Not sure, would like to try it again sometime...
More info @ boscofalconeria.it

And more Sicilian and Italian wineries and wines HERE.

23 July 2013

Italy: whites and reds "of the moment", south & north

Three Sicilian whites, a red from Puglia and one from Trentino to be precise, all hot off the shelf from Marks, Lidl and Asda. I've mentioned a certain fondness for white wines from Sicily before (okay, reds too), especially made from the exciting native variety Grillo. New to both M&S (who now stock more Sicilian wines than any other large retailer I'd guess) and Lidl too, both 2012 vintage and labelled under the sweeping 'Terre Siciliane IGP' zone. Here's my verdict:
2012 Grillo (12.5% abv) - a hint of SO2 on the nose, which goes with airing, delicate yeasty notes vs rich peach and apricot, honeyed and rounded vs crisp and zingy, fat texture vs dry bite, full-bodied vs refreshing. Rounded palate with lingering yeast-lees/SO2 notes, dried apricot, peach and almost toasted/honey-coated almond flavours yet quite steely and 'mineral' really; nice wine in the end. Lidl £5.99
2012 Grillo (13% abv) - hints of Viognier in style with that sweet apricot and honey fruit, but more white peppery and fresher with zesty pear edges, quite crisp acidity vs ripe sunny and rounded. Good stuff. £6.99
And Asda has been promoting the 2012 vintage of its Fiano dry white from Sicily, which I recommended last summer and continue enjoying it every time I buy it, for a fiver I think (as they do: don't know what the 'usual' price is, as I only get it when on promo like the rest of the world!)
Moving east to the other side of southern Italy to the Puglia region, Marks has also taken on a 2012 Negroamaro red (another indigenous variety) at £6.99 (13.5% abv): Nice and fruity with jammy damson and black cherry, spicy earthy edges, ripe rounded and warming with liquorice flavours vs dark chocolate twist.
Heading about as far north north as you can go in Italy, towards the border with Austria, Lidl has taken the fairly brave step of listing a Teroldego Rotaliano from Trentino (you only find this variety there), a 2010 Riserva red (12.5% abv) for £6.99 as well (price-point of the moment obviously): Surprisingly dense with a coating of coco-choc oak (these reds are often on the lighter side and un-oaked), fruity and spicy though with nice smooth tannins giving attractive dry vs ripe profile, peppery and earthy with hints of toasty coconut grain vs dark cherry/berry fruit; quite structured and serious yet drinking nicely now. Developed more liquorice and spice the following day with sweet/savoury fruit, wilder edges vs fairly smooth texture.

25 July 2012

Italian reds: Sicily, Barbaresco, Amarone...

The first Sicilian red recommended here is made entirely from an obscure indigenous variety called Nerello Mascalese from vines grown in the Agrigento area in the southwest of the island. The second is another co-op winery red moulded from the better-known Nero d'Avola grape (I wouldn't have said that a few years ago but I've noticed more and more Nero d'Av wines around, which is nice) sourced from southern Sicily. Finally, the dearest one, also from the south and 100% Nero d'Avola, is a bit of a Mediterranean treat although still quite good value for the quality at £12; I'd much rather drink this than a 'cheap' Barolo at the same price.
Talking of which, or next door at least, Marks & Spencer sell a Barbaresco for £12 as well, which I found a tad austere though still pretty typical Nebbiolo in style I guess. The Barby I've included here - 100% Nebbiolo too as they all are - is more than twice the price unfortunately but is in a different class; shame that you have to pay so much to get something very good from the Piemonte region. And travelling east to the other side of the north, if you get my drift, we have a rather yummy Amarone from Valpolicella. It's fairly expensive as well, as they naturally tend to be, and not everybody's cup of red tea, being typically full-on and towards head-banging in style, so save it for a special and very hearty meal (wild boar stew perhaps?! Matured hard cheeses certainly).

2009 Nerello Mascalese Cantina del Coppiere, Sicily (13% alcohol) - 'sweet' floral fruit with wild lavender edges, tasty 'sweet/savoury' palate with ripe maturing fruit vs a touch of grip. Nice Med style. M&S £5.99
2009 Baglio Rosso Nero d'Avola Cantina Sociale Viticultori Associati, Sicily (13%) - similar profile to above, perhaps more intense and lusher with lovely sweet fruit and wild herb undertones, again attractive soft and easy mouth-feel vs structured too. Good stuff. M&S £7.99
2007 Nero d'Avola di Sicilia Casa Girelli (13%) - rich and seductive nose with savoury and almost tar-like notes, ripe dark fruit for sure; concentrated gamey and savoury palate with lush structured underbelly, very long finish. Delicious wine. M&S £11.99
2007 Barbaresco Cascina Morassino, Piedmont (14.5%) - has all that enticing firm and fresh character you'd expect from Nebbiolo vs much richer and darker than the 'cheaper' one, meaty powerful finish; classy wine. M&S £27
2008 Villalta Amarone della Valpolicella Speri, Veneto (mostly Corvina and Rondinella plus Molinara and others; 15%) - perfumed dried cherry notes with meaty 'tar' edges, powerful and firm mouth-feel vs nice and lush vs dry texture, big stylish finish. M&S £25

18 June 2012

Italy: "whites of the moment"

Asda "Extra Special" Fiano
Asda has been making an effort with its Italian white wines stocking a few lesser-known ones from Sicily, the mainland south and north. A nutty floral example is their 2011 Extra Special Fiano (13% alcohol) made by Cantine Settosoli in Sicily, which offers great value and taste for a fiver on offer. Try their slightly more exotic 2011 Extra Special Falanghina (12.5%) from Puglia too, also from the deep south and £5 at the moment. Or 2011 Lugana (13%) from the Lake Garda area in the north, a little dearer at £6.98 but has plenty of flavour and style for the money. Lidl can surprise too if you look beyond Pinot Grigio, Soave et al: give their 2011 Vernaccia di San Gimignano (12.5%) a go for £4.99, an elegant zesty white from Tuscany.
Updated:
July 2012: Asda now has their 2011 Extra Special Gavi on promo for a fiver, a delicate floral citrus-y and lightly chalky-textured dry white from Piedmont in the northwest.
August 2012: Tesco has been punting out the Inycon "Limited Edition" 2010 Grillo (12.5% alc.) - another native Sicilian white variety and possibly the most exciting one wine-wise - for £4.49, which is definitely worth investing in with its towards exotic fruit and texture with yeast-lees edges and fresh dry bite.

08 June 2012

Sicily: Valdibella, Camporeale


Valdibella is a mini co-operative winery set up in the late 90s, although the local 'crops' - grapes (mostly indigenous varieties), almonds (apparently there are 90 types grown in this region) and olives - have been farmed organically here for longer, as sustainable nature is the members' central common ethos. The company is also a community spirited employer and lobbying organization that supports "young people in difficulty" and the Addiopizzo movement against "mafia rackets," as it says on their site. Its six members include Massimiliano Solano, Luigi Montalbano, Gioacchino Accardo, Pietro Scardino and Filippo Giglione, who between them own 38 ha (95 acres) of undulating vineyards around Camporeale and Monreale, on the western side of Sicily inland from Palermo, planted on slopes up to 500 metres (1640 feet above sea level). The people at the co-op have also written their own biodiversity and winemaking charter - see www.valdibella.com - including a low or no sulphite policy, which is a tricky path to tip-toe down and not entirely successful in all of the wines I tried, although some of them are deliciously quirky with it. They're rather proud of their Catarratto too, an old and widely-planted Sicilian white variety, which you'll find here as 50 year-old bush vines and made into three different wines. Same story for Perricone, an almost extinct red grape vine indigenous to western Sicily. Encountered at this year's Millesime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier.


2010 Isolano (100% Catarratto "Extra Lucido") - appley nutty 'natural' style with lovely bite and intense finish.
2011 Ariddu (Grillo) - wild yeast-leesy nose, fairly rich mouth-feel vs crisp mineral bite and citrus fruits, concentrated and lively finish. Yum, very nice white.
2010 Acamante (Perricone) - perfumed and peppery with floral cherry notes, tasty palate with quite soft vs dry tannins. Different and good with it.
2011 Respiro (Nero d'Avola, no SO2 hence the name presumably meaning "breath") - a little baked/oxidised and meaty on the nose vs ripe dark fruit combo, attractive supple tannins. Was a vat sample though so might not have travelled well!
2010 Respiro - similar nose although fruitier vs those developed meaty edges, concentrated chunky mouth-feel vs rounded tannins. Good stuff.
2010 Jaki (50-50 Cabernet Sauvignon-Nero d'Avola) - dark 'tar' like aromas, rich extracted palate with again those nice tannins, very ripe oily character almost vs enticing savoury meaty maturing edges. Wow, a bit odd but delicious with it.

19 May 2011

Black cats and black grapes

Black grapes refers to a lively little Italian rosé - sorry, Sicilian (oops, there go the kneecaps...): 2010 Nero d'Avola made by Cantine Settesoli. Weighing in at 12.5% alc. and £4.99 a bottle at Tesco, this zingy vs creamy fruity rosé delivers plenty of redcurrant and raspberry with crisp finish; and is fairly versatile as a foodie wine (venison & red onion burgers from M&S, fish & chips, prawn Balti...).
From http://snickrt.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/gato-negro1.jpg
As for black cats, the Gato Negro range from Vina San Pedro in Chile's Central Valley is an all-round crowd-pleaser with attractive, well-made and easy-drinking wines; especially at  Wine Mark / Russell's Cellars in Belfast where you get a '2 for £9' deal. On the red front, try the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (13.5%) or the quirkier purple-black 2010 Carmenere (13.5%); and for whites, there's a zesty dry grapefruity 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (12%) or peachy citrus-edged 2010 Chardy. And not forgetting their almost delicious creamy red fruity vs crisp 2010 Cab Sauv rosé. Mini-feature on Chilean rosés / rosados here.
More @ gatonegro.cl

03 February 2011

"White of the mo" = Moramari Fiano

Moramari 2009 Fiano from Sicily: £4 on promo at Asda supermarkets a couple of weeks ago (and arguably worth paying more for if no longer on offer, about 6 quid I think?). I can't get enough of white wines like this, and Sicily is good at them made from several exciting indigenous varieties like this one, Fiano. I like that combo of oily and ripe-fruit flavour/texture with seductive nutty and zesty edges. Just has so much more character than many New World whites (except Rieslings perhaps) and omnipresent Chardy blends you see around.
Not sure who the producer is - the MGM/Mondo del Vino group perhaps? - but the brand is part of this UK importing dynamic duo's portfolio: Off Piste Wines.
More tasty Sicilian white wines can be found in my "island of mystery" feature on the WineWriting.com Italy archive page.

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