Grapevine Archive for Sicily
Sebastian Payne MW has been buying Italian wines for Society members for 30 years. A piece published on this blog last year looking back over his career describes his first visit to Sicily in 1992, where international grapes were in vogue, often at the expense of local character:
‘It took years of external influence from winemakers and buyers alike to help push Sicily back on track and to regain its confidence in its own individuality.’
How times change.
This month’s Staff Choice is in many ways a testament to this confidence in individuality. The Society’s Sicilian Reserve Red, made from the island’s indigenous nero d’Avola grape, has been one of the most popular additions to our range in recent years.
This soft but generous red has quickly become a wine-rack staple in our home because it works equally well on its own or with a variety of food (pizza, lasagne, barbecues). You always need a dependable, crowd-pleasing red that’s versatile, and this fits the bill perfectly.
£7.50 – Bottle
£90 – Case of 12
View Wine Details
I have a confession, and I beg forgiveness from all francophile & hispanophile members. If I were to be restricted to drinking wine from just one country for the rest of my life I would choose Italy – no discussion.
While I admit that I would be hard pushed to find a direct replacement for my beloved Rhône reds, my aromatic Alsacien fix could come from the Alto Adige, and I would then be forever happy. The sheer diversity of Italy’s indigenous grapes has to be tasted to be believed, and our annual double-header tasting (this year in London and Bristol earlier in the week) has cemented this yet further into my taste buds.
14 estates present, 33 wines between them, 22 purely Italian indigenous varieties (with the exception of a dollop of cabernet sauvignon & merlot in one Umbrian sangiovese-based blend). The freshness of Etna’s frappato, the minerality and linear beauty of Soave’s garganega, the elegance and staying power of Piemonte’s nebbiolo and the grippy ripe food-worthiness of Puglia’s negroamaro were just four of the delights experienced by the palates of 300 members & guests in London and 200 in Bristol.
A full list of the wines tasted can be found on our website; many are either currently available on the List, or will appear in our Italian offer which runs from 6th August to 9th September.
The list of growers was impressive, reading like a veritable who’s who of who and what is hot in Italy at the moment: GD Vajra & Proprietà Sperino (Piemonte); Pieropan, Allegrini & La Riva dei Frati (Veneto); Isole e Olena & Gianni Brunelli (Tuscany); Monte Schiavo (Marche); Barberani (Umbria); Contesa (Abruzzo); La Guardiense (Campania); Masseria Monaci & Vallone (Puglia); and Nicosia (Sicily).
What is most reassuring is to see the next generation of families taking their business yet further, something that struck me as I looked at those sitting opposite me at our ‘thank you’ dinner on the Glass Boat in Bristol (see right), as well as others further around the table. The future is fixed on firm foundations, and with it my drinking habits should that aforementioned singularly restrictive day ever come!
Head of PR & Events