I am going to talk about the imported wine that was the second selection from my local wine club, the Fine Wine Source. As they like to offer one domestic and one imported wine each month. I think the best part of a good wine club, is that you receive some wines that one may not even notice on the shelf, or one might refrain from grabbing because of where the wine originates from. With a wine club, you don’t have that option and all you can do, is hope that the wines will be interesting and fun. This particular wine is from Sicily, where I have had wines from before, but it is made from two grape varietals that I have never encountered before. One of these days, since I am supposed to have all of this extra time being retired, and I don’t know where the time goes, I am going to have to fill out and submit for membership for the Century Club, that is, if I have actually had one-hundred different grape varietals. One day eventually.
Caruso & Minini is to be found on the western most coast of Sicily near the town of Marsala. Antonio Caruso back in the late 1800’s was buying the grapes for the nearby firms in Marsala. The family owned operation continued and one of the later members, Nino Caruso decided to be the winery and the bottler in the mid 1900’s. In 2004, Stefano Caruso and Mario Minini of Lombardy began the present winery featuring the indigenous Sicilian varietals. Now, it is Stefano’s daughter Giovanna that is working closely with her father. The winery is twelve-hundred hectares and between 200-400 meters above sea level; and that includes five hectares that are being farmed organically under Giovanna’s guidance. An interesting fact about the land is that it was once underwater, and the soil is an alluvial soil, rich with water and organic substances. Also the area is known for having large stones, locally called cuti, which are about the size of a softball, that not only impart a noticeable minerality that adds to the terroir of the land, but the cuti also soak up the sun’s heat and transfer the heat to the vines, allowing for an earlier ripening season and higher acidity to the wine.
The Caruso & Minini Terre di Giumara, Frappato Nerello Mascalese IGT Terre Siciliane 2018 is rather unique in many ways. IGT Terre Siciliane which means Sicilian Land was created in 2011 and is just under Sicilia DOC, and the new designation basically covers the entire island outside of a few designations that get the DOC. The IGT Terre Siciliane also allows a broad spectrum of wine styles, colors and varietals. Frappato is a light-bodied red grape that is a mainstay on the island, it is cherry colored, aromatic and low in tannins and likened to Beaujolais, is favored for its ability to blend well with other grapes. The other grape Nerello Mascalese is also a popular grape in Sicily and it is a dark-skinned grape, that produces a tight, fresh red wine with fruity and spicy flavors and its ability to express terroir in its finish. Its DNA shows that it is probably a child of Sangiovese, and this grape is also known for its blending qualities. The fruit is hand harvested; the destemmed grapes undergo maceration and fermentation in Stainless Steel for about twenty days, and then the malolactic fermentation is also done in Stainless Steel. Thirty percent of the wine is aged in large barriques for four months and the balance is aged in Stainless Steel for eight months. Then the two juices are blended together to take advantage of the big tannins of the Nerello Mascalese and the lower tannins found in the Frappato. The wine is described as a light refreshing wine with a full bouquet, with notes of spices and berries and notable acidity. From the notes that I have read, this wine is intense and is a perfect pairing for the spicy dishes of Sicily and Southern Italy.