(2017) Sicily, the Italian island in the Med just off of the 'toe' of Italy's boot, is home to some very interesting indigenous grapes, and plenty of good, affordable wines. This blends the local Grillo with Viognier to lovely effect, and it is certified organic too. There's a creaminess on the nose - lemon cream - but it's not oak, just some of the ripe fruit character. In the mouth it marries weight and texture, peach and ripe melon fruit, with tangy citrus, dry and quite bracing with a salty edge, but the fruit matches that stride for stride. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) This organic Nero d'Avola from Sicily is immediately striking because it comes in a tall 'flute' bottle more commonly seen on aromatic white wines. It is dark and powerful stuff, almost syrupy and balsamic in its aromas, but a welter-weight of spicy berry and plum fruit too. The palate is bold and ripe, with plenty of tannin and textural fat in the mouth, a wine with a bit of real heft despite that sweet opulence of the fruit. Good value, especially for Daily Drinker members at £8.10.
(2017) A very handsomely packaged wine, there's a dramatic liquorice and graphite darkness to the aromas, a delightfully juicy palate, sparked by some herb and spice notes, but really it is all about savoury and lightly gamy black fruit into a long, energetic finish with excellent acidity and taut tannins.Fine quality at the price for this wine made from the native Sicilian Nerello Mascalese.
(2016) Sicily's Frappato usually delights and so it is with this light, fresh and buoyant red, a touch of ink and earth adding some seriousness, but it's about the wild strawberry lift and freshness. Dry on the palate, there is some intensity here, the finish showing a little more tannin and seriousness than some, but it remains joyous, buoyant and fruit-filled - just as it should be.
(2015) If you haven't yet discovered the bountiful joys of Frappato, this example from Sicily is an excllent introduction to its cherry-fresh style. There's lipstick and a floral lift on the nose, loads of that cherry-cola fruitiness and then so much super ripe and juicy fruit on the palate. Not serious, but a little star, with bucket and a half of pleasure in every glass.
(2015) The cheapest white of this selection and a wine I really enjoyed. From the excellent Mandrarossa co-op, it is bursting with vivacious fruit aromas, lots of punchy lime and little exotic lychee glimpses, before a palate that is dry but suffused with peachy fruit sweetness. Medium-bodied and deliciously balanced with citrus and a lick of saline in the finish, it's a lovely quaffer and general all-rounder and an absolute steal at the price. £5.95, The Wine Society.
(2015) There are a few examples of Sicily's charming Frappato around now, but this bright purple example is a corker - that is, it is so flamboyantly perfumed and exuberantly fruity, which in many ways is what Frappato does best. The nose brims with buoyant, quite Beaujolais notes of summer berry fruits, hedgerow flowers and exotic hints of clove and spices of the Souk, with a fresh and crisp palate, only 12.5% alcohol, that surprises by being bone dry and savoury, light on its feet with a crunch and just a nip of tannic grip. £7.95, The Wine Society.
(2014) A 13.5% abv Carricante, for this and Musmeci Federico buys from growers with whom he works closely. This fruit comes from 60 year old vines in Santa Maria di Licodia southwest of Etna, at 900 metres. Fermented and aged in botti for nine months in total. This vintage went through natural malolactic fermentation, but doesn't always. Silvia also keeps it for one to two years in bottle. Some herbal touches to this, but lemon and melon skins, lots of phenolic content. This has a touch of apparent sweetness on the mid-palate and fruit concentration, but that mineral content really streaks through, with pithy and taut but juicy lemon and that lick of saline.
(2014) DOC Contessa Entellina, from Palermo. Nero d'Avola and other grapes. Inky dark colour, with masses of espresso oak, chocolate and the darkest plum and black berry fruit. The palate is very dry, perhaps that oak just slightly overdone, drying out the palate and submerging the fruit, and the slightly underripe feel of the tannins adds to a sensation of dryness and lack of generosity, despite that endless depth on the nose.
(2014) IGP Terre Siciliane, from Ragusa. A much more floral, light, soaring scent here, more what I expected from Frappato, with elegant herb and cherry aromatics and plenty of bright, spicy focus. The palate has a dry, inky red and black fruit dryness and mineral character. No real tannin structure, but elegant with the fruit and acidity in balance. Lovely drinking.