• If you like big, fruit forward, easy drinking, affordable wines then look to Sicily (Sicilia), Italy.

    Back in the day, before Italy really started regulating wine, Sicily was doing some shady stuff. They would ferment wine in large quantities, and then pipe the wine directly from the tanks into tankers. These ships laden with big juice would traverse the waters to Northern Italy.

    This was before the shift in temperatures that we’ve been experiencing. Northern Italy had some really cold cloudy years. As a result, their wine was too acidic and lacking of body and fruit.

    The North’s solution was to bolster their wine (on the DL) with the hot climate, big fruit wines from Sicily. This practice was frowned upon, and later labeling laws forbade it. Sicily still adds their juice to fortified wines all over Italy.

    Mind boggling fact: The island of Sicily produces more wine than New Zealand, Hungary and Australia combined.  Woah.

     

     

    This is why you can find screaming deals on Sicilian wines at most grocers and wine stores.

    Here are a few beauties:

    2011 Valle dell’Acate “Case Ibidini” Nero d’Avola Sicilia

     

     

    K&L Wines has it available online for $12.99 and they had a few words to say about it..

    “A second label of Valle dell’Acate, the Case Ibidini range (pronounced ‘bidini) consists of varietally labeled wines from the estate intended for more casual consumption. The local name of the area where the estate is situated, Bidini, is drawn from the ancient root Bidis. This in turn referred to the name of a group of early Hellenic settlers who populated the area nearly 20 centuries ago. These wines provide a purity and authenticity reflective of the philosophy of the estate, all at an affordable price. Made from 100% Nero d’Avola grapes grown in medium-compact soil interspersed with tufa. The wine was aged 6 months in stainless steel tanks. Its ruby red color, bright fruit flavors, and pleasant tannins make it suitable for everyday meat dishes: roasted, stewed or otherwise. According to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: “This is a superb set of wines from Valle dell’Acate. Not only are the wines delicious, the best bottles deliver incredible value as well. The estate uses only their best hillside plots for the Valle dell’Acate label, while the vineyards in the plains are used for the entry-level Case Ibidini range.”

     

    Nero d’Avola is the go to red wine from Sicily. It is the most common varietal you will find, and if you like one you will probably like most of them.  So if the above Nero breaks the bank you can try the cheap entry level one at Trader Joe’s

    2011 Ruggero di Tasso Nero d’Avola

    It doesn’t exhibit the complexity of the more expensive wine, but for a barbecue in the back yard… it’ll do in a pinch.

    It has light tannins, medium to high acid, moderate fruit, medium body, and it’s only $3.99.

    Check out some Sicily if you’ve got a hankering.