After 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
The three wines I recommend are:
COS Frappato Terre Siciliane 2015 (Domaine Select, New York) $28
Occhipinti Il Frappato Terre Siciliane 2015 (Louis/Dressner Selections, New York) $40
Valle dell’Acate Il Frappato Vittoria 2016 (Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, N.Y.) $20
As is so often the case, you may not be able to find these wines, which are made in limited quantities. It’s a small region, so the selection is not vast, but here are some alternatives: Tami, Manenti, Planeta, Vino Lauria, Bellus, Biscaris and Lamoresca, which is technically not within the confines of Vittoria but is close enough.
I realize that looking for small-production wines can be frustrating, yet they are almost always worth seeking out. The alternative — recommending mass-produced bottles — results in either a limited number of subjects endlessly repeated or wines that generally do not show a genre’s potential.
Don’t worry about the vintage. Both 2015s and ’16s will be good choices.
Frappato is a versatile wine. You could serve it with summery pastas, salads and caponatas, veal and pork dishes, even with fish. Just remember to give it a light chill.
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