The Anti-Passo

Digging into some new Sicilian bottles today, and my love for these textured, often rustic and rather inexpensive wines is well-documented. This one is a classic Nero d’Avola–one of the dominant grapes of this prolific wine-producing island in Italy. A region I think a lot of people instantly classify as volcanic, but that is predominately the Etna area–as alluvial and calcareous exposures abound–this particular wine the latter.

Deep clear ruby in the glass, a beautiful crimson glow right out to a razor rim tinted in purple. Ripe plum and peach, a ridiculous candied cherry, and dessert-like earthiness explode into the nose. Rich and sweet-smelling, the headiness hints at dried-fruit concentration akin to golden raisins or softly-desiccated currant–but nothing approaching raisin-y or prune-y. The high note of berry is difficult to explain–such is its lollipop density and blood-orange vocabulary.

Tasting it is a model of modernity, and any fantasies of rustic you gathered from the nose are dashed upon entry. Clean and, well, DELICIOUS: I can’t think of a better word to describe this wine, as elementary as that may seem from someone rarely lacking for words. The fruit is a beautiful version of cherry, burnished at the edges with peppery angst. This wine is easy to look at two ways: Dense, elegant and focused -OR- a jovial and uncomplicated dance. It is not a simple wine, though the pleasure from each drag prods at easy-thinking, unsophisticated regions of the palate. Or, you can go the other way: accessing the sharp tomato-skin and chalky dryness, the grasp of delightfully herbaceous briar morphing to clamoring tannin. This wine will make both sides of the fence extremely happy. It literally has something for everyone, and is both a BTG no-brainer and a serious cellar-candidate. Your call.

2019 DUCA DI SALAPARUTA ‘Passo delle Mule’ Nero d’Avola IGT Sicilia DOC Italy 13.5

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