No Sissy Sicilians!

By Robert K. Stephen (CSW)

(WINDSOR, ON) – When I think Sicilian reds I think mostly of robust and powerful wines. Full bodied, big mouth feel and no nonsense wines fit to brawl with spicy sausages and the richest sweet tomato sauce Sicilian tomatoes can produce. Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir move over you big sissies as big bold Nero D’Avola is shoving you aside. Putting Sicilian tough guy stereotypes aside as we should when trying wines are my thoughts about big muscular Sicilian reds just a figment of my imagination purely errant or do they bear fruit when we pour away, gurgle and slurp? No better way to find out than open up a couple of bottles.

We start with a Nero D’Avola blended with Cabernet Sauvignon with a deep black cherry colour. Strong aromatics of black cherry with an interwoven frame of herbs and lavender with some chocolate mousse, red currant and freshly ground coffee beans. Wow this is no delicate regattza! It is powerful and brawny on the nose but very dense and well encased in a delicate if not sensual vanilla frame. Huge on the palate with notes of crumbled almond cookies in a bizarre chocolately rhubarb pastry that has yet to be invented. A big long finish. Big tannins held back by a tad of residual sugar. Tremendous use of oak as the wine has been aged in French barriques. Loses complexity at the mid palate and stumbles ever so lightly. The wine is in no way rustic and unrefined but I would strongly recommend a huge rich tomato dish with this. I can only think of Alberta wild boar simmered in wine served over egg noodles. I’d suggest this as well with Tuscan boar but I can only imagine in Tuscany they’d demand I drink a Sangiovese or else run me out of town. I’d think of putting a few of these aside and when winter strikes as it will in 2013 with a vengeance take one of these out, put on the fireplace and think you are the third little piggy who built a sturdy house! (Tancredi, 2007 Nero D’Avola/Cabernet Sauvignon, Sicily IGT, Donnafugata, Marsala , Sicily, Italia, 750 mL, 13.5%, LCBO#00990424, $25.95 Windsor Square Rating 91/100). Donnafugata is a well known producer. 

We move on to a pure Nero D’Avola which is soft red plum in colour. It is initially coming on to the nose as a Cabernet Franc with notes of tobacco, chocolate and cherry until more exotic aromas of spice box, rich ripe black cherries and red currants creep in. As the wine warms up to room temperature root beer and coffee are discernible on the nose. Lots of spice, chocolate and sweet stewed rhubarb pie filling. Tannic yes but also well rounded with a broad finish. I’d say there is enough stuffing to set aside a few bottles until 2015. Not a big bruiser but then not a delicate wine. Somewhere in the middleweight category. I write in the shadow of no one but I see here Antonio Galloni of Robert Parker Wine review shares the same rating I do. This means dear readers I am a brilliant wine reviewer and you should completely trust me and not your own palate! (Tasca D’Almerita Lamuri Nero D’Avola 2009, IGT Sicilia, Conte Tasca D’Almerita, Regaleali, Siciliy, Italia, 750 mL. 14%, LCBO 568089, $17.95, Windsor Square Rating 91/100). As Donnafugata is a top producer so is Tasca D’Almerita.

This Nero D’Avola is the lightest in colour of all three wines and it has a lighter cherry aromatic with tobacco and chocolate once again reminding one of an Ontario Cabernet Franc. It also has a bit of rawness to its nose which is often a characteristic of a cheap n cheerful. This most likely falls into that category as its rawness chug a lugs onto the palate along with the tobacco and chocolate all with a rough edge of black licorice and fresh Santa Rosa plums. It’s a bit choppy and ragged but not tannin laden and is ideally suited to some rough and choppy fare. A good introduction to basic Nero D’Avola which is increasingly reminding me of a Cabernet Franc with muscle. Drink now (Eloro Pachino DOC 2008, DOC, Rudini Pachino, Italia, 750 mL, 14%, LCBO # 00270298, $18.95, Windsor Square Rating 86/100).

Nero D’Avola is no sissy but then again it is not huge big brawler. It reminds me of an Ontario Cabernet Franc with its cherry, tobacco and chocolate notes yet with rougher and edgier nature but not so rough as to be categorized as rustic. This is going to take a few more bottles to get a better profile but I think well worth the effort and fun. As usual in our state monopoly a very limited range of Nero D’Avola for your drinking pleasure.

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