'Out on the patio picking at the last few Spanish olives in a sea of brine, an apple pie lands nearby, waving for its savory aroma the heavy and humid scents of fallen peaches and leaves baking on the summer day's lawn fill your mouth; reaching for your sweating glass of water --peach, pie, and thyme-- they combine...'
For a wine found on discount, and one that already seems priced just under $10, this wine certainly delivers. I'm going to be honest, Sicily isn't the first thing I think about when I think 'Italy,' but as I thought back to the autumn and the summer I was actually drinking a number of really good (yet more obscure) red and white wines from this amazing island.
In recent memory I can't recall if I've had many Fiano wines --maybe two or three if i dredge deep enough-- but they're worth trying: the wine evokes an essence of olive brine, notes of apple with hints of cinnamon grazing by with this pervasive yet subtle sense of dry summer warmth baking the entire area as traces of peaches and other citric fruits poke to the surface with mouthwatering acidity. It's hard describing something that can be both juicy, round, and yet feel warming, light with an edge of acidity. But what makes it even more interesting (perhaps after letting it warm closer to room temperature or just spending extra time sniffing the glass) are the secondary notes: all of a sudden I couldn't help but think of plate of fresh sushi, not fishy, but the cool breeze lifting off the rice, hint of mayonnaise, and celery wrapped in seaweed. This wine was made for seafood!
Winery & Winemaker: The MandraRossa brand comes out of the Cantine Settesoli, originally run by Diego Planeta (of Planeta Winery) since 1973. Settesoli is Europe's largest cooperative with over one-hundred growers spanning 16,250 acres and being located in Menfi on the southwestern side of the island, this area reaps the good and the bad of the Mediterranean climate --long hot summers with little rainfall and the cool ocean breeze. Last year Mr. Planeta retired leaving his winery and holdings in the more than capable hands of Alessio, Francesca, and Santi Planeta.
Vin-story: Diego Planeta is credited, along with a few other Sicilian wine houses and his enologist Carlo Corino, with revitalizing Sicily's wine industry. Throughout much of the twentieth century Sicily was producing vast amounts of bulk wine and exporting its juices for blends to Italy and France. During the mid-1980s, with the introduction of new wine, techniques, technologies and diversifying the varietals to include not only native Sicilian grapes but also Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and a host of others; fast-forward thirty years and the wines are becoming what we all know about Portuguese wines: great quality for a great price.
The Fiano varietal is a classical Italian grape originating from the Campania region of Italy. It was known of as far back as the Romans (and perhaps the Greeks) but for much of the twentieth century it was one of those varietals being quickly uprooted almost to the point of extinction because of its low yields and quick oxidation factor-- something that, with advances in technologies introduced in the mid-1980s and 90s, was stymied allowing a more consistently pure and longer lasting expression of the wine for consumption and export. The grape was brought back from obscurity through the Mastroberardino family who in the 1940s identified a specific strain of Fiano and set to replanting their vineyards with it. In Avellino and Lapio, in Campania, Fiano wines enjoy the highest level of quality, DOCG (Doenominazione Di Origine Controllata E Garantita) status.
Grapes & Production: 100% Fiano, known as Vitis Apiana (vine of the bees because of its sweetness) by the ancient Romans, stands at 13.5%ABV though you'd never guess this until after three glasses... or the by the time the bottle is done. MandraRossa is matured and stored in stainless steel tanks on yeast lees prior to preparation in the bottle. Some portions of the wine undergo extended contact with the lees and in-tank battonage occurs (agitation of the lees to enhance body and creamy texture by preventing a thick layer of lees to form).
Importer: Palm Bay International Fine Wines & Spirits
Winery: Cantine Settesoli, email@example.com
PoP: Warehouse Wines & Spirits $4.99 (retails at $9.99)