A First Course in Wine: From Grape to Glass. Copyright 2013; Race Point Publishers, NY. 224 pages. Forward by Mario Batali.

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Wines for a Jack$on (Under $20) – Gulfi Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2009, Sicily

Sicily is Italy’s largest region and has approximately three hundred fifty thousand acres of land under vine, more than any other region in Italy. Following the unification of Italy in the 1946, co-ops and large scale industrial factories dominated

Gulfi's 2009 Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG; a blend of Nero d'Avola and Frappato

the wine-making scene, shipping most of their output to the north and other parts of Europe for blending. Lately, there’s been a greater focus on quality rather than quantity, and the Sicilian wine frontier has never been more exciting to navigate. Sicily’s reputation as a wine producing region was built around sweet and fortified wines, and the most recognizable DOC is still Marsala, produced on the western side of the island. There are many successful wineries producing limited, hand-crafted wines, and by doing so are helping to revive Sicily’s image as a premier venue for Italian wine production. One such winery is Gulfi, a hotel/winery located in the southeastern side of Sicily that produces nearly ten different wines, mostly crafted from many of Sicily’s unknown native grapes.
The 2009 Cerasuolo di Vittoria is a great example of the kind of wines coming from this sleepy corner of Sicily. The wine is medium in body with notes of toffee, chocolate, and a charred fruit profile. Although it’s lighter in color than many other Sicilian reds, it’s loaded with complex aromas and subtle spices that make it a perfect accompaniment to cured meats or hard cheeses, like Piacentinu di Enna, a sheep’s milk cheese infused with saffron and black peppercorns.
Wines labeled, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, must always be produced from two of Sicily’s indegenous grape varieties: Nero d’Avola and Frappato; the former is Sicily’s workhorse grape used in many of the best wines from the island, and the latter is one of the least known grapes. On its own, Frappato typically produces wines light, fresh, and fruity with cool bubble-gum flavors and ashy undertones. Although less common in the marketplace, most Frappato wines retail between $15-$25.

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