Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cerasuolo di Vittoria - Sicily's only D.O.C.G. wine

Here is a wine that, despite its location in warm, at times scorching hot Sicily, never fails to make me wonder how red wine can be made in as brisk and fresh a style in such warm, sunny climes. What distinguishes Cerasuolo di Vittoria from Nero D'Avola, the Sicilian red most often sold in wine shops, is the addition of Frappato (up to 50%), which seems to brighten and lively up these wines.

Recently I had a bottle of 2005 Gulfi Cerasuolo di Vittoria. For less than $15 it really delivers a ton of flavor, purity, and versatility with food. Brisk mixed berry flavors were at first not quite as high-toned as I remember them, though they are still fresh and sappy if not exactly racy. On day 2, however, this wine shows a bit more minerality and the acidity becomes more pronounced, in a good way. Straight Nero d'Avola is fine, in particular if there is a good variety of aged Italian hard cheeses and hearty food around, but I'd really rather be drinking Cerasuolo. Some other good ones I've had in the past year are Planeta's '05, which I recall being more purely red fruited and a bit more edgy than the Gulfi, and an '05 COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria, which is somewhere in between with more spice and savory notes sneaking in there. Any of these three wines are just the ticket if you're looking for a fun, different type of Italian wine experience.