It’s not often that you get to drink wine made from a vineyard that sits in a proper tourist attraction. But that’s how we roll here on 1WD when we’re touring Sicily. And while it’s always my pleasure to talk Sicily to people, I figured that Italy could use the extra love these days in the time of COVID-19.
My Sicilian media trek last year afforded me the opportunity to visit the somewhat inappropriately named Valle dei Templi, a striking UNESCO site that sits on a hilltop in Agrigento, and is home to some of the most magnificently preserved examples of ancient Greek temples and archeological findings in all of Europe. The fact that they grow wine grapes there is kind of a bonus (head over to the Napa Valley Wine Academy website for more vinous findings from that Sicily jaunt).
The particular wine made from said grapes is CVA Canicattì’s “Diodoros” Nero d’Avola-based red, named after ancient Greek historian Diodorus Siculus. Unlike the temples, the vines that source Diodoros actually do grow in the valley, right in the shadows of the temple of Giunone and within an Olympic discus-toss of the rest of Agrigento’s most famous tourist attraction…
Not that there are very many shadows in this spot, where CVA Canicattì has been able to maintain the three hectares of 1970s field-blended plantings (once in disrepair), since an agreement reached in 2011. The grapes growing from these sandy-alluvial soils see some intense heat and sunlight, creating a deep, ripe flavor profile with the kind of oomph that you’d expect from the ancient gods.
90% Nero d’Avola, with the remainder comprised of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, this is fresh, plummy, and chewy, with a ton of character – and most of that character is textbook Sicilian red: just enough fullness, just enough grip, and just enough silky suppleness. Blackberry, blueberry, and red plum flavors are all up the mix, topped with aromas of leather, tobacco, rose petal, earth, wood, and baking spices. The finish has nice length, retarding into a sense of heat and power (probably from the grapes getting all of that intense sunlight). You’ll want aged cheeses with this, because, well, that pairing would just rule.