"Tasting Report Big, Earthy and Rich With f.ruit -"
lHl:. Nl:.W YUKI(. lJJVll:.:::', Wl:.UJV/:.:::'UAr, AUlJU'::'l L.4, L.UU::J WINES OF THE TIMES Tasting Report: Big, Earthy and Rich With f.ruit Gulfl erobufaleffJ 2000 N IGT $38 *** Ceuso 5curatllGT 2003 $15 ** Big, balanced, earthy and concentrated; not complex but a pleasure to Big and brawny yet supple with balanced fruit and mineral flavors. drink. (Importer: Selected Estates of Europe, Mamaroneck, N.Y.) (Vias Imports, New York) Donnafugata Tancredi $27 **Vz Gladiator Nero d'Avola 2002 $10 ** Contessa Entelllna 2002 J ammy fruit and earth aromas; slightly candied. (Testa Wines of the Subtle and light-bodied, though with plenty of fruit and an herbal, cedary World, Port Washington, N.Y.) aroma. (William Grant & Sons, New York) Planeta Merlot IGT2001 $38 . ** BEST VALUE Well-made and pleasing but lacks a sense of Sicily. (Vias Imports, New York) . Valiedell'Acate $19 **Vz Cerasuolo dl Vlttorla 2001 Abbazla Santa Anastasia $50 ** Lltra IGT1998 Full of bright, fresh fruit flavors and cherry and smoke aro- Tannic, with international flavors. (Empson U.S.A.,Alexandria, Va.) mas; easy to enjoy. (Panebianco, New York) WHAT THE STARS MEAN: Palarl Faro2001 $58 **Vz (None) PassIt By *** Excellent Densefruit and chocolatearomas, wellbalancedbut a little oaky. * Passable **** Extraordinary (Panebianco,NewYork) ** Good Ratings reflect the panel's reaction to wines, which were tasted with names and vin- tages concealed. The panelists this week are Eric Asimov; Florence Fabricant; How- Morgante Don Antonio Riserva IGT2002 $30 ** ard Horvath, wine director at Esca restaurant, and Scott Mayger, a wine consultant. Big and fruity,like a shiraz with great acidity. (Winebow, New York) The tasted wines represent a selection generally available in good retall shop!>and restaurants. Prices are those paid in liquor shops in the New York region. Donnafugata Mille e Una Notte $60 ** Tasting Coordinator: Bernard Kirsch Contessa Entelllna 2001 nytlmes.com Inky black with big, rich flavors and plenty of acidity and tannins. (William Recent wine columns from The New York Times are online: nytimes.com/wine. Grant & Sons, New York) This week, members of the panel discuss their favorite Sicilian reds. the tanks of cheap blending wine and have even gone so far as to sug- cent cabernet sauvignon. That zone By ERIC ASIMOV have given way to wines that at their gest that the name syrah was de- was created in 1993,when blending best are fruity and embraceable yet rived from the Sicilian city Siracusa. experiments were well under way. N the 19th century the nation of retain the character and personality Perhaps, but that connection seems As a result, grapes as diverse as ca- Italy was created by joining re- of the iSland. tenuous to me, even if one of the bernet, syrah and pinot noir can be I gions that had maintained un- comfortably separate political existences. Depending on which ital- It's not easy for a region that has been making wines out of the spot- light for centuries to give up the old . wines we liked best, the 2002 Mor- gante Don Antonio Riserva, which was made entirely of nero d'Avola, part of the mix. Maybe the authorities were on to something, because the cabernet ways, but in wine zones like Faro in reminded me of an Australian shi- lends the Tancredi subtlety and an ian you ask, the union mayor may not have succeeded. For understand- the northeast of Sicily, Cerasuolo di raz, though one with enhanced acid- attractive cedary tinge. By contrast, ing Italian wines, though, it's fair to ity that cried out for tomato sauce. Donnafugata's 2001 Mille e Una say it is a failure. When tasting a wide range of Notte, a big, inky, powerful wine that Too often, deep-seated regional dif- wines from an up-and-coming region was No. 6 on our list, is 90 percent like Sicily, you expect a fair share of nero d' Avola and 10 percent other lo- ferences among wines are lost as they are lumped together under the Humble grapes show clunkers. Although we did find a few cal grapes. It is also twice as expen- term Italian. While a love of wine and bottles that tasted like assembly-line sive as the Tancredi. food may bind together Italians from some personality. confections or of baked, over-ripe The Donnafugatas were not the Alto Adige in the north to those in fruit, the overall quality was excep- only example of price not quite cor- Apulia in the south, the wines from tional - "across-the-boarddrink- relating with quality. Our NO.3 wine, ( able," as Mr. Horvath put it. a 2001 Cerasuolo di Vittoria from each region are as different as the lo- Vitto.ria in the south and Contessa Our favorite bottle was the 2000 Valle dell' Acate, was our best value cal grapes, soil, climate and culture. Entellina in the west, winemakers You may already know and love Nerobufaleffj (neh-ro-boof-uh- at $19. This wine, which gains fresh- have modernized their farming tech- LEFF-ee) from Gulfi, made entirely ness from the blending of nero d' Avo- Amarones (from Veneto) or Chiantis niques and improved their methods (from Tuscany), but neither, as the of nero d' Avola. Like most of these la with frappato, outperformed much in the cellar. Occasionally, the urge wines, it was easy to enjoy. The Gulfi more expensive wines, like our No.4, Dining section's wine panel found to modernize has gone too far, and and four other wines in our Top 10 a 2001 Faro from Palari for $58. Not out, will help you much in decipher- ing the wines of Sicily. producers have eliminated their lo- cal grapes in favor of international carried the designation IGT, for In- that we didn't like the Palari it - We approached our tasting of 25 Si- dicazione Geografica Tipica, a term was dense and spicy, but also oaky. varietals like cabernet sauvignon, that gives government sanction to Palari makes a second wine, So- cilian reds with great anticipation. merlot and syrah. These are not nec- Few wine regions have undergone as wines that meet less stringent rules prano, that sells for half the price of essarily bad wines. We all liked a regarding grape varieties or areas of the Faro. I have long liked this wine, thorough a transformation as Sicily 2001mer lot from Planeta, one of the has in the last 20 years, and few are production than required for wines which is generally full of fruit and biggest Sicilian producers. It was that carry regional names, like Con- mineral flavors, but a 2000Soprano as unfamiliar. For Florence Fabri- well made and enjoyable, but not a tessa Entellina or Faro. in our tasting did not make the cut. cant and me, along with our guests, wine with much soul. Howard Horvath, the wine director Many forward-looking producers If Sicilian wines are going to suc- No, the most distinctive Sicilian opt for IGT status rather than be ceed in making names for them- at Esca restaurant, and Scott Mayg- wines continue to be made primarlly er, a consultant who worked most re- bound by the regional rules. But selves, it will be because distinctive with the traditional Sicilian grapes, sometimes those rules encourage ex- wines like the Gulfi, the Donnafuga- centlyat Barbuto in the West Village, most notably nero d'Avola, which the tasting was a chance to reac- perimentation. Our No. 2 wine, the tas, the Palaris and the Valle dell' A- makes deep, rich wines, and, to a far graceful 2002 Tancredi from Donna- cate force people to take notice. quaint ourselves with a category that lesser degree, frappato, lighter and we find in restaurants all too rarely. fugata, meets the standards for the When they do, they will not imagine more aromatic, and nerello Masca- Contessa Entellina designation, even that these are great Italian wines. " "Even in ancient times, Sicily was rese, which is used primarily in the known for producing vast quantities though it is an untraditional blend of They will say, "These are great Sicil- Faro zone. Some have speculated 70 percent nero d'Avola and 30 per- ian wines," and that will be enough. of wine. But in the last two decades that nero d' Avola is related to syrah,