Duca di Salaparuta, “Passo delle Mule” Nero d’Avola 2011 (about $19)
Italian Wine for february, 2017
Duca di Salaparuta is one of Sicily’s oldest and most prominent wineries. Originally founded in 1824 it has been an influential Sicilian wine producer since its founding. Today the company has extensive vineyard holdings throughout Sicily and markets a variety of premium red and white wines bearing primarily Sicily IGT appellations throughout Italy and the world.
Nero d’Avola is one of Italy’s most important indigenous red varieties. It is most widely planted in Sicily and accounts for the largest share of red wines produced in Sicily. The thick-skinned, late-ripening Nero d’Avola varietal typically produces full-bodied wines high in tannins and packed with dark fruit flavors. It is often compared with Syrah in that both varieties thrive in hot, relatively dry climates and generally share some of same intense aroma and flavor profiles.
For years Nero d’Avola was used primarily as a blending grape often used to add color and body to less well-endowed wines from mainland Italy as well as Europe in general. It was generally viewed as a rustic, easy-drinking wine of no special interest other than its use as a blending wine. However, interest in the variety has increased in recent years, fueled by a new generation of impassioned winemakers focused on indigenous varieties with the result that wines made entirely of Nero d’Avola have been appearing in the market with increasing frequency.
The Nero d’Avola grapes for this wine are grown in the hills of Duca Di Salaparuta’s Suor Marchese estate in south-central Sicily. Here the vineyards are about 1,000 feet above sea level which helps mitigate some of the punishing heat that prevails in this part of Sicily. The grapes are hand-harvested in the latter half of September, fermented for about a week and then transferred to oak casks where the wine is aged for about 10 months. The wine is then bottled where it rests for an additional 8 months prior to release for sale.
Salaparuta’s 2011 Passo delle Mule displays all the attractive features and intense personality of a Nero d’Avola wine. It has a complex cornucopia of tempting dark-cherry fruit aromas and layered, juicy fruit and spice flavors complemented by a velvety texture saturated with fine tannins. It is a warm, enveloping drinking experience. While the wine is full-bodied and flavorful it carries its weight well and is not excessive or overstated. The wine’s relatively modest 13 percent alcohol level helps keep everything in balance.
This wine would be a welcome addition to any meal featuring braised or barbequed red meat, beef stew or ratatouille and is an especially congenial companion to a serving of eggplant parmigiana with red sauce.
More recent vintages of this wine are now available on wine shop shelves including the recently released 2014 vintage.
February 6, 2017
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