Nero is the second most popular grape in Sicily’s vast viticultural oasis, and it, like the locals, is not soft spoken. Dark in color, with deep saturated fruit like preserved cherries, Nero is also Jalapeño spicy, aromatic and herbal, but never lean. It is a heat loving, vigorous variety, with deep color, good acid, medium tannin, and compared to Syrah in color and expression. Or should we cal it Calabrese? That’s really the official name of this grape?! Why have we been mis-lead, nay, lied to for all these years?! Put simply, it would seem that the moniker Calabrese was wrongly placed on several other grape varieties throughout Italy over time and the local Sicilian name for this grape, meaning ‘dark from Avola’ kept its identity separate from that mess and then it just sort of stuck. Thankfully. It is far and away the most prolific and important grape in Sicily, but only in recent years are we seeing more single varietal wines of great quality. Often it was blended with international grapes which was an unfortunate trend in the region for some time.
Also: Nero D’Avola + Frappato are a magic combination that make up not only (Sicily’s only DOCG wine) Cerasuolo di Vittoria, but what is also fast becoming one of the more popular Italian blends imported into the US today. With all that warm climate fruity appeal of these wines, it’s no stretch to understand why that is. The Nero is the dark, saturated and structured ingredient while the Frappato is the light, high toned and crunchy bit. Cerasuolo producers almost invariably bottle one wine each of these grapes as mono varietal examples and it’s never dull to try them all at once to sense just how obvious a pairing the two grapes are for one another.
COS / Gulfi / Marabino / Paolo Cali