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Each year, Downtown readers come to us asking what might be the best gifts to give this season. We took a look at this year’s greatest products from cooking to dining, fashion to beauty, and tech to culture to give our recommendations for the ultimate gift guide of 2021. Browse on for ideas on what to give each special person in your life this holiday season, from our hearts to yours.

[…] Cerasuolo Di Vittoria D.O.C.G Classico

Aroma: ripe hints of red fruits, blackberries, raspberries, and cherries, hints of spices including vanilla, licorice, and cocoa. Flavor: soft, full, velvety tannins, persistent and aromatic. Best paired with: aged DOP Ragusano cheese, complicated and spiced dishes like chicken curry, game pâté, lamb, and rabbit.


How a New Generation of Wine Pros Are Positioning Sicily to be the Next Great Italian Wine Region

One is immediately struck by the sense of history when visiting Sicily, the southern Italian island that feels less like an “island” and more like its own continent.

Given Sicily’s strategic location, the island was one of the most sought-after prizes in the Mediterranean, with a long history marked by Greek, Roman, Phoenician, Carthaginian, Arab, Byzantine, Norman, French, and Spanish interests. Evidence of these varying historic influences can be seen in everything from churches and architecture to culture, cuisine, and the many ruins found on the island.

It’s no wonder Sicilian wine long struggled with an identity crisis.

For years, the Sicilian wine industry was based largely on the production of Marsala and bulk wine. However, in recent years, Sicily has started to emerge as a wine region to watch, in large part thanks to the establishment of the Sicilia DOC.

Recognized in 2011 by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food, and Forestry Policies and officially established in 2012 with the aim of protecting and promoting the production of Sicilian wine, the Consorzio di Tutela Vini DOC Sicilia represents about 3,000 growers and nearly 500 winery members. This large appellation covers many of Sicily’s indigenous grape varieties, including Grillo, Catarratto, Inzolia, Nero d’Avola, Frappato, and Perricone, although certain international grapes like Syrah and Chardonnay are also allowed.



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Do you hear ‘Pecorino’ and think cheese? It’s also the name of a grape that makes some terrific wines. Our wine columnist shares some intel on obscure varieties winemakers love

HOW CAN SOMETHING commonplace also be obscure? This would seem to defy logic, and yet many grape varieties key to the world’s wine producers remain a mystery to most oenophiles. These grapes may not be household names like Merlot or Cabernet, but they’re responsible for some very solid, very drinkable and occasionally even great wines. I consider the following grapes particularly deserving of a bit of acclaim.


Despite a name that sounds like a fast-paced dance, the Frappato grape has been slow to gain fame outside its native Sicily. Much like Bonarda, this red grape is beloved by local winemakers but little known to the world at large. It’s not always easy to find in stores.
One Frappato producer who stands out, in terms of both quality and production numbers: Valle dell’Acate. According to proprietor Gaetana Jacono, the Frappato grape was the source of the very first wine her family produced back in the late 19th century and was once the sole grape in the family’s Cerasuolo di Vittoria wines. Today their Cerasuolo wines contain a blend of Frappato and the much better known Nero d’Avola grape.
Ms. Jacono loves the fresh character and bright acidity of Frappato, which she said can even pair well with seafood such as salmon, tuna and fish soup with mussels. This grape is as versatile—light and lively with a delightful bitter-cherry aroma—as it is easy to love.




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valle dell'acateWe received a bottle of Il Frappato wine to review from the Valle dell’Acate winery in the southeaster part of Sicily. It was suggested that we chill the wine and enjoy on a hot summer day. We tend to drink more white and rosé wines during the heat of the summer; however, this red wine was delicious served cold. The wine was made from the Frappato grape, native to Sicily. We have had Sicilian wines before made with the red Nero d’Avola grape and the white Grillo grape; this was our first taste of a wine made with Frappato.
The 2017 Il Frappato Vittoria Frappato DOC Sicily had a translucent dark red color with 13% alcohol. There were floral and red fruits on the aroma. The taste was reminiscent of violets, cherries, juicy black raspberries and baking spices. The medium bodied wine had mild tannins. The finish was crisp with fruit yielding to spices.
The Valle dell’Acate winery has a series of wines from the “7 Soils for 7 Wines” portfolio. This Frappato was made with grapes from the “black soil with white pebbles” vineyard. This vineyard is about 100 meters (328 feet) above sea level. The compact soil has a black color with white stones throughout. Grape vines are deep rooted.

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by Sarah Tracey

Because warm weather isn’t only about rosé.

Temperatures are rising but that doesn’t mean you have to switch to rosé. Red wines still deserve a place on your table, whether that table is indoors or out. The most refreshing way to make red wine a part of your summer routine is to chill it. Not all red wines should be chilled, though: Chilling full-bodied, high tannin, high-alcohol reds like cabernet sauvignon will make them taste astringent and metallic; and savory wines like syrah that have lots of leathery, earthy, or spicy flavors will not drink well when chilled. The best red wines to chill are naturally light in body, low in tannins (the compound found in the seeds, stems, and skins of grapes that can make your mouth feel dry and prickly), and are fruity. Chilling reds like these brings out their liveliness and minimizes the perception of alcohol. (That’s the warming sensation that alcohol in wine can bring and it’s not something we usually desire when it’s hot out!).
The best way to chill a bottle of red for summer sipping? In an ice bucket or cooler. If you can’t tuck the bottle into ice, simply put it in your refrigerator for 45-60 minutes before you plan to drink it. Here, five red wines that are perfect chilled.

A fantastic, easy drinking wine from Sicily, frappato is brimming with wild strawberry and red raspberry flavors and aromas, and has an incredibly smooth texture. Try Try Tami By Occhipinti Frappato 2017 ($21.99) or Il Frappato, Valle dell’Acate 2017 ($19.99). Embrace the spirit of Italy in the summertime by pairing a chilled glass of frappato with a fresh summer pasta.


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by Mauro Pisu and Tim Bulman
Italy Desk, OECD Economics Department

In Curno, 50 km north east of Milan, is the headquarters of Brembo, the Italian company supplying brakes for Teslas and Ferraris as well as for mass market cars and motorcycles. Founded in 1961, its 255 employees generate over USD 3 billion of revenue from production facilities across 15 countries.
1500 km away, in Sicily’s south-east, Gaetana Jacono runs the Valle dell’Acate winery. She is bringing to six generations of wine making tradition new production technologies and distribution approaches that are developing exports to large new markets.
Enterprises like Brembo and Valle dell’Acate have helped Italy in recent years gradually recover from its extended recession. These are mostly medium sized enterprises that are highly productive and have grown activity and created jobs though investment and exports, supported by government policies such as the Industry 4.0 programme or labour market and education reforms.


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08by Monica Mendal

Move over whites, rosés and proseccos: this spirit will elevate your summer wine.

On hot summer days, it’s easy to stick to whites, proseccos, and rosés. There’s nothing quite like those light and minerally wines to refresh the spirit after a long day in the sun. While the options are certainly endless for summer wine, it seems reds are typically relegated to cooler temperatures or steak dinners, but what if we wanted to enjoy a glass of red by the beach or in the city on a hot afternoon?
Finally, one Sicilian red wine is making its way into summer wine collections. Frappato is a light-bodied red Sicilian wine grape variety with a distinct fruity aroma.
Gaetana Jacono, owner of Valle dell’Acate calls it: “the wine of the past, the ancient wine of Sicily,” although she adds, “It’s also the wine of the future for a healthy and light taste. A real precious pearl that must be searched for carefully.” Until now, Frappato has been inconceivably hard to find as its grape variety only grows in one area of the world, the Vittoria area in southeast Sicily, and thus has just 30 producers.

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by Sonny Figueroa

frappatoAfter three straight lessons with white wines, I’m ready for a red, aren’t you? So this month we will drink a red that enjoys a light chill, a necessity perhaps in July.
The grape is frappato, and the wine comes from the Vittoria region of southeast Sicily. The wines of Mount Etna may be getting all the attention, but the wines of Vittoria deserve to be recognized.
The leading wine of the region is Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a blend of frappato and nero d’Avola. We will be tasting straight-up frappatos, which are a little lighter than Cerasuolos and can be enjoyed a little sooner.
Reds like frappato have gained popularity in recent years as consumers have come to appreciate wines that rely on freshness rather than power. Twenty-five years ago it was an entirely different story, as producers in Sicily were betting on international varieties like merlot and cabernet, but tastes have evolved. Nowadays, consumers are far more interested in indigenous grapes like frappato than those grown everywhere else in the world

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by Eric Asimov

Among the many harbingers of warm weather, one of my favorites is the N.Y.U. Hawk Cam, starring a pair of red-tailed hawks that have nested since 2011 on a ledge, overlooking Washington Square Park, outside the office of the president of New York University. As I sit at my computer, I’ve got half an eye on this year’s nestlings, three little hawks that are now tiny white balls of down, too weak to sit up for long. By the beginning of summer, they will be nearly fully grown and strutting the ledge, impatient to fledge into the wilds of Greenwich Village. The hawks are a reminder that human behavior, too, is informed by the seasons. Just as many people gravitate to lighter foods as the weather warms, so do they seek out lighter wines as summer approaches. For this edition of 20 Under $20, whites and rosés predominate, though reds will always have their place, accompanying the grilled steaks, ribs and burgers of summer. For some years now I have made the case that the greatest values in wine are in the vicinity of $20 a bottle. It’s easy to find palatable wines for under $10, but very rarely will those bottles offer any sense of excitement or distinctiveness. Spend a little more, say, $15 to $20, and the number of distinctive, exciting bottles increases exponentially. Occasionally, such bottles can be found for less — one of my favorites here is just $12.99 — but the probability is low. Read more…

Majestic Wine: 5 Questions With Valle dell’Acate Owner Gaetana Jacono

“Life is too short to drink bad wine,” stated Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Celebrating excellence in wine is the rally cry for Vinitaly, the largest wine exhibition in the world. Attended every year in Verona, Italy, by producers, importers, restaurateurs and journalists, all participants are eager to share and discover new trends and exchange ideas on this internationally recognized Italian tradition of excellence. Once again the city of Romeo and Juliet is the world’s wine capital this week, where from April 15-18 Verona is transformed into a prestigious world-class showcase of the best of the best in Italian wines.

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