What in the heck is Nero d’Avola? It is a red wine grape from the island of Sicily, Italy. It shares very similar characteristics to Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah. It is high in tannin and alcohol while being fruity and bold. It is a great wine for those who enjoy the Cabernets or Pinots of California. As wine production has begun to improve in Sicily, there has been an increased focus on Nero d’Avola, in addition to wines from around Mt Etna. If you have purchased a bottle for this week, you may have also noticed the affordability of this varietal. It’s a fun bottle to take to a dinner party when you don’t want the price tag of the aforementioned, much pricier, varieties Cabernet and Syrah.
While Sicily is much more well known for Marsala wine, in the recent years, red wines have started to gain steam. With increased regulations, Sicily has changed from a jug wine production area to a quality focused region. As this shift has occurred, the popularity of red wines has been on the rise. Red wine only accounts for about 30% of wine produced in the area but they have the most notoriety, other than Marsala. Nero is the most planted red grape in Sicily. It is commonly used as a blending grape, as well as bottled on its own. It is also the easiest to locate at retailers.
When we poured the Nero d’Avola, we saw a clear, medium ruby colored liquid in the glass. While the aroma wasn’t pronounced, it did smell of blackberry, blueberry, vanilla, red cherry, and black currant. When my tasting partner and I finally took a sip, we noted a dry wine with moderate acid, tannins, and alcohol. The flavors we coaxed from the glass were cranberries, tart red cherries, vanilla, red currants. On the medium length finish all of this evolved into raisins with a touch of salinity. Overall, this was a fair representation of what this variety has to offer but I look forward to trying a refined portrayal.
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