Friday, May 30, 2014


Regular readers will know that I get quite a kick in trying wines made from obscure grapes. I surpassed my first 100 grape varieties some time ago to become a card carrying member of the Wine Century Club. I'm slowly inching my way up to reaching 200 but it does get harder and harder to find those new grapes. Indeed, I now find that I often have to Google part of a wine label to see if it's a grape or a brand name for a winery. Accordingly, it was fortuitous that I stumbled across this Italian red a while ago.

1619.  2012 Caruso & Minini - Terre di Giumara - Frappato Nerello Mascalese (Terre Siciliane IGT - Sicily - Italy)

Caruso & Minini is one of a new breed of smaller wineries that have started production as part of a renaissance of winemaking in Sicily. Part of this renaissance involves a strong interest in the potential of Sicily's native grapes and Caruso & Minini are certainly party to that approach. Much of the winery's production highlights such native Sicilian grapes as Perricone, Inzolia, Nero d'Avola and Grecanico. This particular wine blends two of region's local grapes: Frappato and Nerello Mascalese.

Unfortunately, I don't get to add both grapes to my Wine Century Club list. Perhaps a little surprisingly so, Nerello Mascalese has already been added to that tally. So, rather than repeat my earlier notes on that variety of grape, I'll just include a link to my earlier post. I think that earlier bottle was even a single varietal wine - which isn't all that common to find on our West Coast shelves. I am adding Frappato as #171 to my list though and I'm all the happier for it.

The Caruso & Minini winery is located in the heart of the traditional production area for Marsala; however, only Nerello Mascalese is traditionally used (although only to a small extent) in making Marsala. Rather, after a new wine denomination or appellation was approved for Sicily - Terre Sicilane IGT - the winery looked at using Frappato in producing a new blended wine under its Terre di Giumara line. Terre di Giumara is the name of the Caruso family's country estate and the brand was first used to produce the family's varietal wines. The new IGT denomination allowed the introduction of Frappato into a wider range of Sicilian wines and the winery capitalized on it.

Don't let the deep colour of the wine fool you into thinking that this is a big, boisterous wine. I was quite surprised by the lightness and fruitiness of the juice.  Frappato is apparently known for its lighter tannins and acidity - perhaps stemming from the fact that, like Nerello Mascalese, the grape is related to Sangiovese. Indeed, the winery notes highlight the lighter tannins and recommend matching the wine with both meat and fish.

Something tells me that I'll be looking for more smaller, regional wines like this to fill those last 29 spots in order to hit 200 varieties. Count on it.

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