Last year, I did a sort of double-dip on the Italian wine community. I traveled on a media tour to Asti in the north (to eat fried cow brain and other fantastically odd delicacies, while getting immersed in all things Ruchè). And, since I was in Italy anyway, I was taken on another media tour with Zonin 1821, wrapping around the southern coast of Sicily on a trip with other wine writers and sommeliers. Because, well, Italy.
The Sicily jaunt focused specifically on pairing the various wine brands under the Zonin umbrella with artisan fare from producers of some of the world’s most authentic ancient grain pasta; its historic chocolates; its mind-(and-adrenaline-)blowing coffee; its unparalleled seafoods; and its almost life-alteringly-good cheeses.
I’d thought about if/how/when I was going to write about this trip, but Zonin one-upped me and put together this amazing video of the trip, which I’m happy to report they’ve allowed me to share with you (in which you can see Lorenzo Zonin go for a swim, and me doing my best Family Guy impersonation)…
But because I’m, well, me, I can’t let this slip in without tossing in a wine review… so…
2012 Feudo Principi di Butera ‘Deliella’ Nero d’Avola (Sicily, $60)
One of our stops on the Gastronomy Experience tour was Feudo Principi di Butera, Zonin’s Sicily-based brand and a champion of modernly-styled takes on the region’s key indigenous grape varieties (this was my second visit to Butera, but the first in which I was invited to cut the rug with a traditional Sicilian dance troupe… watch the vid…). The historic Butera site itself is gorgeous, and upon visiting one can easily understand why Sicily’s first prince, Ambrogio Branciforte, wanted to call the place home.
While not all of Butera’s takes on modernity are my cup-o-tea vinously, I am generally a fan of how they handle the versatile Nero D’Avola, particularly their oak-aged Deliella. The line isn’t produced every vintage; they bottle it only when they get a good enough crop from certain plots of their Riesi vineyards that they think can withstand some wood. The result is more often than not a polished, elegant wine; Nero donning a tuxedo.
The sunny, warm 2012 summer is evident in this wine; there’s plumpness and plumminess that pushes the edge of over-ripeness, but doesn’t quite cross the line more than a harmless pinkie-toe-dip or two. The oak, while prevalent (it’s aged in first-year French oak tonneau for eighteen months), is well-integrated, adding tannic bite and aromatic spicy depth. Overall, this is inky, mouth-filling, demanding, dark stuff; black cherry action with small blossoms on top, and structure that won’t quit.
You’ll have to bring your own artisanal cheese, though… I am fresh out…