2018 Valle Dell’Acate Il Frappato - Vittoria Frappato DOC Sicilia
With the days now growing shorter and the feel of autumn finally in the air, it may seem quixotic to extol one of the world’s most quintessential summertime wines, but that is exactly what I intend to do. Not because I am fond of going at windmills with a lance but because the wine in question just tastes so good that I don’t really care if some regard it as a seasonal-only pleasure!
The wine in question is the 2018 Valle Dell’Acate Il Frappato. Valle Dell’Acate is located in Ragusa, an area of southern Sicily. This area has long been associated with Frappato, an old indigenous Sicilian varietal with a three hundred year paper trail to prove its’ bonafides. Until very recently it was almost entirely used as a blending grape. Being naturally a rather light red in color, it was most often added to Nero d’Avola to liven up that dark wine’s tendency to heaviness. But Sicily is now in the midst of a dynamic wine-renaissance, driven by modern winemaking tools like stainless-steel tanks, temperature controlled fermentation and above all a desire for quality over quantity. This new approach has revealed the previously hidden charms of this stand-alone beauty.
The wine is ruby-colored, the sort of thing we see princes and court ladies sipping in renaissance tapestries. The aromas that waft immediately out of the glass are of summer fruits like raspberry and blackberry, with air they develop into pomegranate, fresh and appealing. The flavors are the same, with a vivid freshness on the tongue and a commendably long finish that showed notes of lavender and roses. It’s light to medium in body, with just a hint of tannin pepper and is uncomplicated by any signature of oak. After 24 hours, the remaining wine showed fruit now darkened into plum/dark cherry territory, increased density of mouthfeel and greater complexity. Next time, I may want to decant this wine for a while before serving and I recommend that you do the same.
This freshness and cleanliness of character makes it an excellent and versatile wine with food. We’ve served it several times lately at home with garden-fresh tomato sauces with fresh basil and Kalamata olives, over various pastas. The night we matched it up with some Northern Italian Speck and several different salamis was particularly memorable. The smoked and salty meats seemed to bring out a natural sweetness of the fruit as well as enhancing the body of the wine.
The reputation of Frappato as a summertime sipper is no doubt based on the fact that this wine works very nicely with a light chill on it. The absence of oak lends it to cooler temperature service, a nice feature when the air is warm. Even if things have cooled down, I still like this with a bit of a chill, it seems to focus the wine in a way that I find pleasing. I suspect this would be a very successful match with turkey and all the trimmings and that is as classic an autumn occasion as one can name.