2001 Casa Vinicola Firriato “Chiaramonte” Nero D’ Avola, Sicily

Sicily has been making wine for ages and ages, but it’s getting a lot more attention these days as newer winemakers compete to get their wines a broader audience around the world and change their production methods to achieve higher quality.

Firriato is a fairly new producer on the island. It was started in 1985 by Salvatore and Vinzia Di Gaetano in northwestern Sicily near Trapani. Things move slower in Sicily, I guess, as their first real production ended up being in 1994. Since their initial vintage, they have scaled their production levels to nearly 500,000 cases. That’s a lot of wine from a single producer on a small island.

The Di Gaetanos have dedicated themselves to producing wines from Sicily’s native grapes, and which embody their sense of Sicily’s spirit and history. Their plantings are dominated by Nero d’Avola, Perricone, Grillo, Catarratto.

This particular wine is made of Nero D’Avola, which is also known as Calabrese, hinting at the fact that it may have originated not in Sicily (where it has been for ages) but actually in Calabria on the mainland, an historical source of much of Sicily’s ancient trade.

The Chiaramonte is 100% Nero D’ Avola, which is fermented and aged in French oak for 6 months before release. 20,000 cases made.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is deep ruby in color and its nose holds aromas of smoke, prunes and figs. Once in your mouth it displays flavors of cherries, woodsmoke, and green peppercorns, flavors that are buoyed up with a modicum of acidity and enveloped by light tannins. The finish is average.

Food Pairing:
This is a great wine for earthier foods, with the dried fruit flavors complementing darker, muskier flavors like those you might get from this three mushroom tart.

Overall Score: 8

How Much?: $12

Looks like you can find this at the Wine Exchange.