A Sicilian Renaissance
Calling all lovers of bold Italian reds: The 2015 Firriato Chiaramonte Nero d’Avola offers phenomenal depth and richness at an incredible value. James Suckling found this to be one of his favorite Sicilian releases of the vintage, pinning on 93 points and praising the “round, velvety and ripe tannins” and “gorgeous fruit.” Nab a case or two of this while our allocation lasts of this $17.99 release — plush yet vibrant, it’s a rare catch.
The family-run Firriato is one of Sicily’s most exciting producers, racking up international awards and critical acclaim. The world has taken notice, with Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate even pronouncing Sicily to be “the most exciting region in Italy today.”
In the mid-1980s, Salvatore and Vinzia di Gaetano helped lead the charge of the famed “Sicilian Renaissance.” Founding their winery in Trapani in the western edge of Sicily, they and fellow leading enologists turned their attention back to Italy’s indigenous varieties, especially Nero d’Avola, named after the town of Avola near the southern tip of Sicily. The wines they produced were deep, dark, and sumptuous, boasting almost Shiraz-like concentration.
Now with the help of Federico Lombardo di Monte Iato, the son-in-law of Salvatore and Vinzia, Firriato has been turning out fabulously concentrated reds, buttressed by perfectly round tannins from six estates across Sicily. This 2015 Nero d’Avola hails from the 100-acre Dàgala Borromeo vineyard, where the sandy, alluvial soils allow roots to penetrate deep into the earth, absorbing moisture and minerals that impart beautiful complexity. The shining Sicilian sun boosts ripening in the south-southwest facing vineyards, while cool ocean breezes refresh the grapes, locking in acidity.
Sicily’s 2015 is already being hailed as one of the best growing seasons of the previous decade, making for reds that Vinous calls “graceful” and “ageworthy.” After a blistering summer, August brought cool nights and occasional rainstorms that cleansed vines and replenished soils. Harvest in late September yielded tiny berries with exceptional acidity, high sugars, and beautifully ripe tannins.
Suckling fell hard for the “round, velvety and ripe tannins” and “gorgeous fruit” of this Sicilian gem, laying on 93 points — for a $17.99 bottle!
Editor-in-Chief, Wine Acces