Monday, April 22, 2013

Another Day, Another Nero d'Avola - Tenuta Rapitala Campo Reale 2011

I haven't written this bottling up for awhile but I'm sure glad I picked up the current vintage at my local shop last weekend. I'm not sure why, but entry level Nero d'Avolas can be so elegant and almost burgundy-like, translucent with wonderful secondary aromas and flavors. The more expensive examples that are deep, dark and heavily extracted are, for my money, frequently one dimensional and less interesting.

Tenuta Rapitala's vines for this bottling sit at around 400 meters in altitude and the soil is mostly sand and clay. It's fermented in stainless steel and then 20% of the wine gets four months in used oak - just enough to give it some structure and spice without overshadowing the fruit. This is about as pleasing and flavorful as you can get for $9.99.

Light see-through ruby in color, the aromas yield spicy black cherry and raspberry with supporting elements of leather and iron. With a velvety texture, the medium bodied red berry flavors finish long and pleasant with soft tannins and a note of bitter cherry on the back end. This went great with balsamic glazed chicken wings and pasta with pesto. Imported by one of my faves, Frederick Wildman. Cheers.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Love" Sicilian Style - Tasca d'Almerita Lamuri Nero d'Avola 2009

Apparently Lamuri means love in the local Sicilian dialect where this great little wine hails from. Well, a few sips of this $14.99 beauty will have you head over heels as well. It's interesting to me that a wine of such balance and finesse can be produced in such a hot climate. Perhaps the 2500 ft. altitude of the vines and the mere 2.4 tons per acre yield help with the balance before the grapes are even in the fermenter. Clay, limestone and sandy soils also contribute nuance to the flavors. Once fermentation is complete, the Lamuri spends a year in new and used French oak barrels.

Nero d'Avola is the most important grape of Sicily, indigenous and having been grown there for hundreds of years. It thrives in the heat and ripens without losing too much acidity. Tasca d'Almerita is a very large producer with properties all over the island and a couple of dozen or so bottlings. For me, usually smaller is better, but it's hard to quibble with a producer that always seems to make good stuff, despite the 3.3 million bottles or so produced annually.

The Lamuri leads with a translucent ruby color and wonderful bright red cherry and raspberry aromas complicated with smoke and herbal elements. The palate is medium bodied and smooth in texture with the bright red berries dominating and stony elements and a cinnamon note in the background. It finishes a bit short but very smooth with silky tannins. Imported by Winebow, this great little wine will go great with tomato sauces, bolognese or a simple grilled chicken. Cheers!