Gulfi Cerasuolo di Vittoria
Nero D’Avola + Frappato * Vittoria, Sicily, Italy 2016
A magic combination that makes up not only Sicily’s only DOCG wine, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, but what is also fast becoming one of the more popular Italian blends imported into the US today. With all that warm climate fruity appeal of these wines, it’s no stretch to understand why that is. The Nero is the dark, saturated and structured ingredient while the Frappato is the light, high toned and crunchy bit. Cerasuolo producers almost invariably bottle one wine each of these grapes as mono varietal examples and it’s never dull to try them all at once to sense just how obvious a pairing the two grapes are for one another.
Matteo Cattania’s family winery, Gulfi, is known as one of the benchmark examples of Nero d’Avola wines in all Sicily. Matteo’s father started working with the Etna viticultural legend, Salvo Foti, to discover the methods of growing their native grapes with true quality in mind, as opposed to the common practices that were clearly designed more for quantity. The results have turned heads in this region around Vittoria and many growers have been adjusting their approach since. Gulfi wines range from site specific single vineyard Nero d’Avolas that are uniquely expressive of the individual terroir, to the the Cerasuolo di Vittoria that is all about the perfect interplay between these two native grapes. There is not a single wine from Gulfi that I wouldn’t strongly encourage you to try.
Be warned. This wine may cause a giggle and a wiggle upon first sip. Blackberries and fragrant black raspberry are nicely dense in this wine, though the weight on the palate remains light and playful. Frappato certainly plays a strong role in that by creating a floral lift to the nose and a candied red fruit element to the taste. Gulfi blends the two grapes equally at 50% each, and it is indeed evident here. The ripeness of fruit just feels like a warm day in the Sicilain Sun. There is a verdant quality to this wine that reminds me a bit of the eucalyptus in Russian River. If I get a Pinot from there that his this kind of nuance, and less concentrated fruit, I’m jumping for joy.
Cerasuolo di Vittoria wines can be up to 70% Nero d’Avola, Gulfi is a rarity with it’s 50/50 blend. Oddly many producers do not list what percentages of each variety is used on the bottle, though we may see this changing soon.