WINE O’CLOCK: A hot red from the black soil of Sicily
LAST week I wrote about the wines of Gozo. From the north of that Maltese island, you can – if the day is clear and your eyesight good – see the coast of Sicily.
What you are looking at is the region of Avola (the town of that name is a bit to the west) home to the famous Sicilian red wine, Nero D’Avola.
If you are holidaying anywhere in southern Italy you will find it difficult to avoid.
But why would you want to? The black grapes, grown in hot, dry soil, produce a rich, fruity, very distinctive wine that can turn many an ordinary meal into a culinary delight.
It is easy to find in Ireland, in both wine stores and restaurants, but you can try many more varieties on its home turf, with names such as Eloro, Menfi, and Reisis.
The Nero D’Avola on sale in Ireland tends to be rich and fruit-filled with flavours of blackberry and chocolate.
You will find plenty of that in Sicily but they also produce a lighter, brighter style of red with hints of cherry and raspberry. The heavier reds go well with any meat dish but if you are eating out in Sicily you will probably be eating fish and the lighter wines make a perfect accompaniment. Ask the waiter’s advice.
To get you in the mood, try these.
Ilpasso, Verde Nero D’Avola (€16.99 from the Wine Centre, Kilkenny). The classic Nero D’Avola: dark, rich fruit, smoky aroma, perfect with stews and casserole dishes.
Il Meridione Nero d’Avola (€11.45, O’Briens). A little lighter with flavours of cherry and ripe summer fruits. Nice with cheese and it won’t over-power fish
Cento Cavalli Nero d’Avola (€13.99, WorldwideWines.ie). Similar to the Il Meridione but with a spicey after-taste.
Due Lune Nerello Mascalese Nero D’Avola (€35, O’Briens). An excellent well-balanced wine. Bouquet of ripe cherries and blackberries, hints of spice and dried fruit. You get what you pay for, I guess, but €35 is a lot to pay for what is, after all, a rustic wine.