Unfamiliar with Sicilian wines, it was an easy decision to sign up for the Stemmari beverage seminar during my recent visit to Disney World, where the famous Epcot International Food & Wine Festival takes place each fall. Even better was the company: my son had just turned 21 years old and was ready to learn about wine.
The first order of business is learning of the winemaking history in Sicily, followed by its terroir and the unique characteristics of each wine. So, with Steven Manos at the podium, he first states there are 1,730 acres of Feudo Arancio vines in Sicily, the island south of Italy that many Italians claim is not part of Italy. The latter sparks an endless debate among Italians. But that’s not why we are here. We want to taste the wines that come from this sunny, hot climate in a land rich in culinary tradition. The windy coast of Sicily, in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea – is where the estate vineyards are located: one in Sambuca di Sicilia and the other in Acate.
We begin with a taste of Arancio Dalila ($31.95), a low acidic, sweet, lightly oaked 2008 Feudo Arancio wine made from the “poor man’s chardonnay grape” — the viogne. Stored properly, we are told this bottle will last 10-12 years. The color is of soft hay and the fragrance emits jasmine and citrus mixed with wildflowers and honey. This wine pairs well with pasta, grilled fish, white meat and medium aged cheeses.
Next, an Arancio Cantadora made with the Nero d’Alba grape, which brings high tannins to our palates and a mouth feel of merlot. High acidity comes from barrel aging for 8 months. The color is deep red with purple reflections and intense aromas of dark berrys and a hint of licorice, plum and vanilla. It’s complex structure makes it a good pairing for pastas with meat sauce, tuna steaks, grilled meats, game and aged cheeses.
So, what does my son think of these tastes? Tastes like wine, he says, but it is interesting to learn how to visually evaluate each pour by color, viscosity and aroma before swirling and tasting.
Finally, we taste an Arancio Hedonis, which we are told is more like a reserve of the former Cantadoro. This intense ruby wine is oaky, with chocolate, tobacco and leather notes. And a bottle of this is $49.95, but if stored properly, will last 50 years. Pairs well with lamb chops, braised beef, stuffed arancini and moderately aged cheeses.
Feudo Arancio produces more wine than all of Italy, we are told, and there are over 1,200 varietals.
Click here for more reviews on Stemmari Sicilian wines. Visit www.feudoarancio.it for more information.