Valle dell'Acate Nero d'Avola, Il Moro
For readers of wine newsletters the big question for Italian red wine makers would seem to be whether to use new small French oak barrels or giant well-seasoned casks. It is refreshing to see a winery choose neither and in the process make an outstanding wine that no one can fault for lacking complexity. The Valle dell'Acate Il Moro only sees stainless steel, but you will never guess that only by tasting. Once again we are reminded that it is vineyards and vines that make wines great - not coopers.
Valle dell'Acate is to be commended for betting their future on the great classic vine types of Sicily and their zone. They are also to be complimented for their restrained use of barriques. So many Sicilian wines today are overwhelmed by the heavy imprint of internationally styled "flying enologists" that seem more intent on turning Sicily into the next Australia. The wines of Valle dell'Acate show that you can make wines in a modern style without giving up traditional varieties and the unique dimension they can bring. In a world where wines are becoming more and more the same it is a good idea to be distinct.
The wines of this estate are unique and across-the-board delicious. Gaetana Jocono (pictured above) has been given the reigns of the winery created by her father in 1981, and under her leadership the wines are constantly improving. Although the estate itself was not established so long ago, she represents the 6th generation of the family involved in making wines from this region. Their vineyards are located on the southern coast of Sicily almost directly in between Siracusa and Agrigento. In these sun-soaked vineyards they focus on growing frappato and nero d'avola for reds and insolia for whites. Only one of their white wines, Bidis, includes a foreign varietal (chardonnay), while all other wines are pure examples of Sicilian varietals.
Raccolta Selection: 2001 Il Moro, Nero d'Avola, Sicilia IGT
Rating: A * Value: Excellent * Price: $22
A rich concentrated wine that is aged only in stainless steel to allow the intensity of the nero d'avola grapes to show clearly. Nothing in complexity is given up by not using wood in this multi-faceted wine - a big reminder that complexity comes from the vineyard not the barrel.
Tasting notes: Bright scarlet ruby, just translucent. Intense ripe raspberry aromas are blended with tobacco, leather and just a touch of prunes. Rich and mouth filling with a firm structure. The fruit is dense, very ripe and concentrated with a hot tobacco bite that balances the rich sweetness of the fruit. The finish is long and dramatic mirroring the tobacco and raspberry of the aromas. The tannins are apparent, but well integrated. Three of four years of bottle aging will be rewarding. A dramatic and distinctly Sicilian wine.
Other highly recommended wines:
-2002 Il Frappato: Bright ruby with purple hints, just translucent. Explosively grapy, juicy and fruity with almost a note of that "foxy" aroma you find in American grape varietals. The sweet grape flavors continue on the palate with lush grape/cherry jam impressions. The finish is dry but the sweetness of the fruit leaves a sweet impression. All this fruit sweetness is braced by a zesty acidity. A good wine for spicy tomato sauces and aged cheeses.
-2002 Insolia: Bright green/gold. Fresh apple, pear aromas with walnut highlights. Lively, clean and refreshing on the palate with good fruit balancing the zesty acidity. The clean sweet pear flavors are carried nicely by the acids. A pretty, crisp and enjoyable white.