Monday, August 5, 2013

Two Very Affordable Sicilian Wines From Rockstar Twenty-Something Winemaker Arianna Occhipinti


Sicily is one of the oldest winegrowing regions in the world having been colonized by the wine-loving ancient Greeks and Romans who spread winemaking wherever they went.

The same way as Bordeaux has Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and Burgundy its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Sicily has its own native grapes, too. Two classic Sicilian grape varieties are Frappato, a red grape, and Grillo, a white grape. Both these grapes make delicious aromatic and complex wines with their own expressive character. They are fun and versatile to drink year-round, especially during summer.
  • Grillo is best compared to Chardonnay (some producers even blend the two), as it is rich and full-bodied, and offers extra with its alluring floral scents.
  • Frappato is akin to Pinot Noir, not a heavy wine but fruity and aromatic with bright cherry and strawberry flavors. It makes for really charming wines. Like Pinot Noir, Frappato is a delicate grape and can be finicky to grow.
Thanks to a new generation of Sicilian wine producers, today, who are producing top quality wines from these two grape varieties. One of the brightest young winemakers, whose wines are perhaps more sought-after than any Sicilian wines in the US right now is Arianna Occhipinti.

Now in her late-20s, Arianna has been making wine for the past ten years, initially under the tutelage of her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti, of COS estate, a leading light among fans of traditional Italian wines. She debuted with the 2004 vintage under her own label at the ripe age of 21!

Arianna farms all her vineyards biodynamically. She is well recognized as a proponent of natural winemaking, and also a champion of Sicily's indigenous grapes, including Grillo and Frappato.

Aside from her 10-hectare estate vineyard, Arianna also makes wines from grapes grown by her close friends under the label Tami'. The Tami' vineyards are planted with vines that are at least ten years old and also farmed organically and biodynamically. With the intent of making wines that are enjoyable upon release, Arianna applies a short maceration of one week and then six months aging in stainless steel before bottling.

Freshness, charming fruit, and purity of flavors are what these wines from Tami' deliver. They are great values and made as authentic as possible by the meticulous Arianna Occhipinti.


Sicilia Bianco IGT Grillo, Tami' 2011 $17.00 (click to buy!)


Sicilia Rosso IGT Frappato, Tami' 2011 $16.00 (click to buy!) 



Olio di Oliva Extravergine "Gheta", Arianna Occhipinti 2012 500ml $25.00 (click to buy!)

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