The invitation said join the Gurrieri Winery of Sicily to taste four of their wines at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Greenwich Village in NYC.
I would have accepted the invitation just because of the wines, and now I had a chance to go to Da Michele, a recently opened branch of the legendary pizzeria in Naples. It was interested to see how well Sicilian wines would go with the Neapolitan-style pizza.
Daniele Solari, the PR and Marketing Manager for the Gurrieri Winery, greeted me when I arrived. We spoke about the winery, pizza and Italy.
Daniele said the Gurrieri Winery is family run and they have been producing grapes for 50 years. The winery is located in Chiaramonte in the province of Ragusa in Sicily. The first bottling of the wine was in 2010. They have 5 hectares in Chiaramonte Gulfi, one hectare in Mazzarrone, and three in Comiso where they grow a variety of grapes including Nero d’Avola, Frappato, Grillo, Moscato, and one international grape, Syrah. They also make a wide range of spumanti and one frizzante wine.
Vittoria DOC “Donna Grazia” made from 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato vinified as a white wine. The vines are 10/14 years old, the soil is red sand, limestone and clay and the vineyards are at 285 meters. The training system is counter -espalier. Manual harvest takes place in late August in the early morning. The grapes are pressed immediately off the skins so that no red color is in the final wine. There is a gentle pressing of the grapes and the juice is co-fermented in stainless steel tanks and remains there for a total of 6 months, The wine remains in bottle for for 3 months before release. This is a fresh medium-bodied wine with hints of citrus fruit and nice acidity, wild flowers, aromatic herbs, thyme and a touch of sea salt. Only 3,000 bottles produced.
This is the first time I tasted these two red grapes vinified as a white wine and I was very impressed.
Sicilia DOC Grillo made from 100% Grillo from 11 year old vines at 240/300 meters with a northern exposure. The soil is gray clay with small river stones. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and the training system is espalier. Harvest is manual in early September. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. There is a light filtration and cold stabilization. Aging is for 6 months in stainless steel with I month on the lees and 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, orange blossoms, green apple, pineapple and lemon and a note of smoke. Only 4,000 bottles produced.
Grillo may be a cross between Catarrato and Zibbibo.
Vittoria DOC Frappato made from 100% Frappato from 9 year old vines. The soil is red sand, limestone and clay. There are 4,500 plants per hectare. And the vineyards are at 240/320 meters. The training system is counter-espalier. Harvest takes place in late September in the early morning. Alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature. After malolactic fermentation is completed the wines rests in the same stainless steel tanks where the fermentation took place for 6 months. The wine is bottled without fining or filtering. Aging is in stainless steel for 6 months and in bottle for 3 months before release. This is a fruit forward, fragrant wine with hints of blackberry, cherry, raspberry, rose petal and a touch of white pepper. 10,000 bottles produced.
Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG “Don Vicé” made from 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato. From 10 year old vines at 300 and 320 meters. The soil is red sand, limestone clay. The vines are counter-espalier trained. There are 4,500 vines per hectare. Harvest is manual in the in October in the early morning. The grapes are hand destemmed and a cold skin maceration takes place for 48 hours Fermentation is with native yeast in stainless steel for 20 days of maceration on the skins. The two wines are blended without filtration or fining. After malolactic fermentation the wine is aged. Aging is for 18 months in tonneaux, in steel for 18 months, and in bottle for 12 months before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of ripe fruit, cherry, herbs, eucalyptus, a touch of spice and a note of licorice. 2,000 bottles are produced. Daniele pointed out that Cerasuolo di Vittoria is the only DOCG in Sicily.
All of the wines I tasted have true varietal character.
They are all good food wines and went very well with the Pizza Margherita. The pizza was terrific and a true taste of Naples.
Prices for the wines range from $20 to $25 for the wine making them a real bargain.