Tuesday, June 18, 2019

La Bella Sedàra, The Beautiful Sicilian

La Bella Sedàra was originally the irresistible, ambitious Angelica Sedàra, the belle of Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) directed by Luchino Visconti, played in the movie by the divine Claudia Cardinale. 

It's also a beautiful Sicilian red wine made by Donnafugata -- and a great way to put a smile in your day!

The label also shows the lovely Contessa Entellina winery in the heart of western Sicily, where vines and olives are an integral part of the landscape.

The outstanding Donnafugata family winery owned by brother and sister Antonio and Jose Rallo literally grows a whole treasure house of vines on its 667 acres here: native Sicilian varieties like Ansonica, Catarratto, Grecanico, Grillo and Nero d’Avola – and Italian and international vines such as Fiano, Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, Alicante Bouchet, Tannat, Petit Verdot and Pinot Nero.

The lovely fresh, fruity Sedàra 2016, $18.95 at the LCBO, made from Nero d'Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, is cherry and plum-scented with subtle notes of baking spices, mocha, berries and black pepper -- the result of oak-free wine-making to achieve a perfect lightness and charm.

Just to the north of Sicily, on mainland Italy, in Puglia, you'll find a refreshingly aromatic bone-dry white wine with the most confusing name: Zìn

Except that this Zìn, unlike Zinfandel, is made from the Fiano grape, a native of Campania and actually a rarity in Puglia.

It's $13.95 at the LCBO and quite delicious with floral and orchard fruit notes, pleasant herbal notes and a touch of minerality -- perfect apero wine or to accompany seafood and shellfish or pasta with white sauces.

Full name is Produttori Vini Manduria Zin Fiano 2017 IGT Salento, quite a mouthful and, by the way, Zìn is the local dialect for sea urchin as you'll see on the label. PVM also produces Primitivo red wine, the ancestor of California's fruity signature Zinfandel.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Everything's Coming Up Rosy!

Named for the doyenne of the Bosc family, the charming matriarch Madame Andree Bosc, this elegant and totally delicious 100% Pinot Noir pinky is a real palate-pleaser.

None of that horrid confected kids' candy stuff here: Cuvee d'Andree is close to what the good folks of 17th-Century Bordeaux used to call "clairet" when their own reds were pale and under-appreciated (except by the Brits - claret). Sure, they were using Cabernet, Merlot and other red grapes rather than Pinot, the lordly grape of Burgundy, but Bordeaux reds were light-colored and still are super food-friendly.

Today, too many winemakers misguidedly strive to darken the color of their reds believing that wine drinkers equate deep, dense color with high quality. Not so! Sorry California!

Pinot Noir and also Tempranillo, the great red grape of Rioja, Spain, always tend towards "clairet" in color and their finesse and magic on the palate are above reproach. I've always believed that Tempranillo was taken from Burgundy to Spain by the pilgrim monks traversing the Camino de Santiago and is closely related today.

The Bosc family recommends beef satay and grilled burgers or seared sea scallops with this crisp, dry 2018 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake release, $16.95 LCBO 333260. The cran-strawberry and white pepper notes bring out the best from BBQ and grilling. Salmon, tuna and rice-based dishes like paella Valenciana would also be my choices.

There's only 500 cases, so get a wiggle on!