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Hey folks, Fionn again this Thursday!
The sun still hasn’t come out to play and all this rain is really making me reconsider my lack of summer holiday plans. I should’ve pulled the trigger on that Sicilian getaway way back when a flight was somewhat reasonable and I could take the time off… Luckily for both you and me, we have plenty of the Island’s best wines gracing our shelves to soothe the pain.
When speaking about Sicily it's hard not to mention Frank Cornelissen. The man singlehandedly helped put Mount Etna on the map with his captivating and terroir-focused wines. His Susucaru is a juicy and fun way to dip your toes into what Etna has to offer. These wines are meant for maximum enjoyment so whilst you don’t have to take them too seriously they still offer enough intrigue to show you what makes Etna so special. Whereas, his Munjabel's are different beasts entirely. A step-up, these are dense, darker, and better suited for the dinner table. I recommend having them open over the course of an evening as they will take you on a journey right to the very top of Etna. If you haven’t tried them yet there’s no time like the present!
I also cannot talk about Etna without mentioning the wines of Eduardo Torres Acosta. Before I worked here, I used to drink here quite a bit and it was Dan's recommendation that got me hooked on these. The Versante Nord is mainly Nerello Mascalese and has heaps going on meaning it punches well above its price point. Gorgeously red-fruited, with this herbal amaro-like undertone all wrapped up by that signature volcanic minerality. So good in fact, that when writing this I have decided to buy another one for my ‘cellar’. Future Fionn will be thankful.
If you like things lighter then you must try the Quota Nave. A few red grapes and a handful of whites are co-fermented for this cerebral bottling. At first a little reductive but with time and air this blows off to reveal something truly quite magical. Effortless and complex at the same time. Served blind I would bet my house on this being a stinky Jurassic ploussard! For some silly reason, these are still flying under the radar but they won’t be for long so get ‘em before they’re gone.
Also, I simply must mention the wonderful COS. Everything they make is stupidly good. Sicily was once known as a place where only mass-produced supermarket plonk came from. That was until COS rocked up. Three schoolmates decided enough was enough and by using native yeasts, organic fruit, and clay amarophra they began to slowly change how Sicilian wine was viewed. When I see those squat little bottles on a shelf I know I’m somewhere decent. They are one of the very few to make a Nero D’Avola that I’ll actually drink. Somehow, their 2022 comes in at a nimble 11.5% which is remarkable considering the Sicilian climate. It’s full of freshness but still with a dark-fruited core that will convert any Nero D’Avola sceptic, myself included.
They also make damn good Frappato and at this price point, you’d be foolish not to pick one up. Frappato is just such a tasty variety and something I reach for all year round. It’s lighter than you’d expect and drinks a bit like Pinot but with more Sicilian charm. This grape has finally seen the love it deserves thanks to the work of Arianna Occhipinti. Funnily enough, Arianna happens to be the niece of Giusto Occhipinti one of the founding members of COS so you just know her wines will be sure-fire winners. Her Frappato is beautifully aromatic, with supple tannins and bright acidity. These wines have a bit of a cult-like following now, and even Stanley Tucci paid her a visit on his latest show Searching For Italy. If its good enough for Stanley its good enough for me!
That’s about all I have time for which is a shame as I haven't even had time to mention some of the other incredible winemakers the island has to offer such as Viola, Lamoresca, Masseria del Pino, Valdibella, and Vino Di Anna. Perhaps a Part 2 will have to come next week? Perhaps I should put together a Sicilian case for you? Hit us up if you want it.
Take it easy