Friday, February 29, 2008

Sicily: Final Wine, Final Thoughts

February provided me with one more day to wrap up my month enjoying the wines of Sicily. I have a dessert wine review, and some final thoughts. In the past 18 months I've enjoyed 7 Sicilian wines--and three of them I popped open in the last 30 days. So I am far from an expert in the wines of the region. But I've been really impressed with the quality, diversity, and value coming out of Sicily. (the symbol of Sicily--the trinacria--photographed by John Lee)

As I reviewed my tasting notes, I realized that I have a misperception or two to erase as I continue on this journey through Italy. The first is that not all Italian reds are big, bold wines. Sicily is no exception. From the delicate and floral Frappato, to a 2003 Cos Pojo di Lupo that I enjoyed in a restaurant, to the 2004 Firriato Nero d'Avola Chiaramonte I picked for my blogger pack at domaine547, Italian reds are as likely to be herbal with good acidity as they are to taste like drinking red velvet. This is one of the reasons why they are such great food wines.

The second is that not all Italian wines are red. I'm only two months in, but I already know that the whites of Italy are going to be the big revelation of the year. If you can put the omnipresent Pinot Grigio aside, a white wine lover can get an awful lot of bang for the buck trying indigenous Italian white varieties. The Italian white that I had this month cost around $11, and delivered delicious, distinctive flavors for a very attractive price. Why? Because its a blend of chardonnay and a grape you've never heard of before. Low recognition (and hence demand) means big value.

I'm just starting to look for sparkling wines other than Prosecco, and for Italian dessert wines. Here I'm still meeting with mixed success and would appreciate any help or advice that you have to offer. I tried a Sicilian dessert wine, the 2004 Colosi Malvasia delle Lipari, which I found on sale at a local retailer. ($17.99/375ml, K & L Wines on sale; available from other merchants for between $23 and $30)The wine was peachy-amber in color, with aromas of honey and apricot. The flavors of sweet fruit (mostly apricot) had a slightly cloying honeyed aftertaste. Even on sale, this represented poor QPR in my opinion as there wasn't enough acidity to counteract the sweetness. It is better with some nutty cookies or shortbread than on its own, but this was not a wine that made me want to rush out and buy more.

Overall, I'm astounded with the range, versatility, and affordability of the Italian wines I've had--and was especially impressed this month with Sicily's bottlings. If you are on the hunt for good value wines, look for Sicilian labels on your local store shelves. I think you'll be pleased with what you taste.

Next Month: Campania


Anonymous said...

I am a fan of these wines as well but its been a while since I had any. I need to get back into it.

Marco said...

Great series. Please post if you encounter anymore Sicilian wines in your wanderings. I think Portuguese red Douros are another region to watch for. When they get their commercial act together, they will be unstoppable.

Dr. Debs said...

Sicily is awfully good, Noble Pig. You're in for a treat. And Marco, I will be posting about Sicily in the future when I open up my red that comes from the Mt. Etna region--complete with sediment. I would agree with you about Portugal, and hope that we start seeing more of their wines on US shelves.

Unknown said...

Oddly enough I took a big leap into Southern Italian wines tonight in wine class. We tasted Sardinia, Puglia, Sicily etc. and I would agree that there were some modest and more lean offerings. It was certainly a unique sampling of wines. I was getting a lot more meat and spice and less fruit. Very unique!