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Friday, March 31, 2017

A Tour Of Sicily


Happy Friday, Joe Canal’s Wine Fans!

Last year, we put together an absolutely killer mixed case of French wines, some of which were very limited and never made it to our shelves. Every once in a while, we get our hands on a few wines that are truly special, but are also in relatively short supply. I simply couldn’t pass these up, and we now have a stellar 12 bottle mixed case of Sicilian wines available for 11 lucky wine drinkers.

 Let me give you the run down. First off, all of these wines are the result of sustainable, organic or biodynamic production. (Get used to hearing those 3 words, folks.) These are very small production wines, and are very unique. Those of you that aren’t familiar with wines from this Mediterranean region, get ready to fall in love. I’ve been on quite the Sicilian kick for the past few weeks, and it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. The 12 bottles in this case are the best of our current lineup. There are a few more coming in that we just tasted. Don’t worry. These will be on the shelves soon.

Winemaker, Arianna Occhipinti is a total rock star in my book. Her wines are all a true expression of her love and respect for the terroir where her wines are produced. Occhipinti is located in Vittoria, in the southwest corner of Sicily. Her first wine was produced in 2004, and in 2005, her wines became internationally distributed. Her love definitely comes across in a big way when drinking her wines. We were able to get our hands on a case of 2 of her wines, and we jumped on it.

Il Frappato Terre Siciliane I.G.T. 2014

Frappato is commonly used as a blending grape, and I don’t know of many, if any wines made from it flying solo. It’s origins are that of a “peasant grape”, but this is no peasant wine. This Frappato comes from 40 year olds vines, and is made using only the indigenous yeast. “bitter, bloody and elegant” are the words she uses to describe this wine, and she considers this wine to be the one that most resembles her brave, original and rebellious nature.

Look for wild raspberry and blueberry, a hint of licorice, and absolutely none of the barnyard funk that’s so often associates with “natural wines” in this style. Her wines are classified I.G.T. as she doesn’t always like to age her wines in oak as long as is required by the authorities to have it classified as D.O.C.

Siccagno Nero D’Avola Terre Siciliane I.G.T. 2014

Siccagno is what the the people of Sicily call Nero D’Avola. This wine is fresh, fruity, wild and elegant. Once again, this wine is all naturally produced. Look for big, bright red fruit flavor, with sweet and earthy tannins. Some of you may with to decant this one for a short time, but I really love seeing how a wine evolves in the glass as I’m drinking it. Personally, I’d dive right in.

Marco De Bartoli Rosso de Marco Pignatello 2014

Pignatello, also known as Perricone, is another indigenous varietal to Sicily. De Bartoli is based in Marsala, in southern Sicily. This wine has plenty of fruit flavors, but some savory overtones as well. This wine is medium bodied, very soft, full of brambly fruit, a wonderful nose, and hints of herbs and sundried tomato. Organically produced. This is the only red Marco De Bartoli produces. The rest of his wines are Grappa, Marsala, and white wines.

Firriato Le Sabbie Dell’Etna Bianco D.O.C. 2015

From the volcanic folds marking the land of Castiglione di Sicilia, the vineyard creates a landscape of charming beauty. Etna is a triumph of nature, where vines have been companions to black lava stone and lemon-yellow broom. This wine bears witness to the land in which it is produced, captivating with the dazzling beauty of its colour and the clarity of the varietal aromas of the ripe white flesh of pears and peaches. The elegant tangy palate is the overriding taste distinguishing this blend of Carricante and Catarratto, made even more emblematic by its persistent freshness.

Passopisciaro Scinniri Rosso I.G.T. 2014

This wine is a blend of Nerello Mascalese, Cesanese, and Petit Verdot. Medium bodied from vineyards on the north side of Mount Etna. This wine is concentrated, yet elegant. Delicate, but meaty. This is one of the wines that really started my whole obsession with Sicilian wines. Hopefully, it will start yours as well.

Tenuta Delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso D.O.C. 2015

Made from very fine Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from low yielding vineyards (35 Hl. Per hectar), both young and old.

The grapes are macerated until the end of fermentation. The wine then continues its life in wood until bottled roughly one year after harvest. Even young it is a distinguished wine. Fresh, fragrant, beautifully slender and with a fine grip, it has a natural polish, a stage presence, as it were. And, in aging, as its weave gathers into rich complexity, it is a wine for gentlemen. It is an aristocratically liberal wine: enjoy it with whatever food you wish, as long as its properly cooked.

Graci Etna Rosso 2014

This wine scored a 93 point score in Wine Enthusiast. "This fragrant red offers alluring scents of rose, red berry and cake spice. The radiant, structured palate is endowed with finesse, offering ripe black cherry, raspberry, licorice and flinty mineral. Firm, refined tannins and bright acidity provide the framework. Drink 2020 through 2025." - Kerin O'Keefe, Aug 2016

100% Nerello Mascalese.

Agricola Altomonte Antonino, Palizzi Rosso 2014

This wine is the only one in this lineup that comes from the mainland of Italy. It’s from Calabria, which is the “toe” of Italy. This wine is so good, that we had to make an exception. A blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nero D’Avola, and organic/sustainably produced.

A wine that exudes aromas of ripe red fruit, especially plum and cherry, in a gorgeous balance of structure and acidity. Tart red berries, earth tones of forest floor and rusticity. Rich in flavors, not heavy in the mouth, but explosive with spice and brazen but integrated tannins. Long and lingering. 
Great with braised meats and hard, salty cheeses.

The last 4 wines are from Tenuta Rapitala. Check out our blog post about them here.

Tenuta Rapitalà, Hugonis Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Although the importer states that this is Cabernet Sauvignon only, there is a bit of Nero D’Avola blended in as well.

Deep red color, full and complex bouquet with definite varietal notes, very well structured, abundant tannins and a long and lingering aftertaste.

Tenuta Rapitalà, Sicilia Syrah Nadir 2014

Intense ruby-red color with damask-violet tints. Generous bouquet with touches of ripe fruit and the typical spices of this grape variety, with attractive hints of vanilla. The flavor is full and delicate, with soft and elegant tannins. A balanced marriage between the depth of this product and the uniqueness of this exceptional terroir.

I’ve gotten so many customers hooked on this one, that’s it’s difficult to keep on the shelves.

Tenuta Rapitalà, Sicilia Nuhar 2013

Bright, ruby-red color and a bouquet with strong aromas of dried and syrup fruits. The palate is warm and full with a balanced acidity and elegant tannins. The finish is long and lingering and at this point, we discover again the classic aromas of a Pinot Noir ripened by the hot, Sicilian sun.

This is a blend of Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) and Nero D’Avola

Tenuta Rapitalà, Terre Siciliane Chardonnay Grand Cru 2015

100% Chardonnay. Aged in barriques, this Sicilian Chardonnay is dominated by wood. It opens with aromas of oak extract, toast, vanilla and butterscotch that all carry over to the warm palate alongside warm notes of lemon drop, yellow apple skin, walnut.

I hope that you enjoy this selection of wines as much as I do. Only 11 of these cases are available. Wait. Make that 10. One of them is going to my house.

If purchased separately, this wine lineup would run you close to $400. Special price for this limited offering, only $309.99. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Cheers! -Bob 


  1. If you have never visited Malta before you can consider yourself lucky that you have it all to look forward to. Malta tourism is thriving, with so much to see and so many things to do in Malta, a trip to Malta should be on your list of 'places to visit'. tour of sicily

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