Nero d'Avola

By Paul Caputo

Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s most famous red grape variety. It is known for its ability to produce full bodied wines with plenty of soft, fleshy fruit characteristics. There are a handful of impressively structured, and serious Nero d’Avola wines floating around; perhaps none more so than the flagship cuvees of Sicilian estates such as Donnafugata, whose ‘Mille e Una Notte’ or Tasca d’Almerita’s ’Rosso del Conte’ stand above the rest, but do we not get much more out of the basic table wine expressions of this humble grape variety? The answer I suppose depends on your stance. I agree, all grape varieties, no matter what their apparent viticultural weaknesses may be, should be worked on and experimented with until the very best, most elegant expressions can be coaxed out; this may be through yield control, canopy management, cloning, various sojourns in oak or not, or further understanding of a variety’s affinity to different terroirs. Now and then though, the situation calls for a delve into the simplistic, into the lunch time drinking juice of times gone by. This is where Nero d’Avola can shine.