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And then Nero d'Avola gets into the mix: Tenuta Rapitalà Nuhar 2003

Tenuta Rapitalà Nuhar Nero d'Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 nu har
I've had tasting notes for a Silician red blend that I've been meaning to put up for some time (and I've alluded to this fact in my last fan mail entry). Just as I was uploading said notes this morning, the annual Tre Bicchiere Italian wine awards began making news. The announcement is important for several reasons, but since we're on the topic of Sicilian wine, I will highlight one significant point that on this day Jancis Robinson reacted to in particular: Sicily is getting more recognition than ever.

While Tenuta Rapitala -- producer of the wine that I'm reviewing today -- does not get recognition this time around, Corvo (Duca di Salaparuta), Planeta, Tasca d'Almerita and Donnafugata all do. These four producers make cuvées that round out a list of 15 honoured Sicilian wines, a number that is up three from last year's list. All four that I've mentioned, as well as Tenuta Rapitala, are available in Quebec.

Tenuta Rapitalà Nuhar Nero d'Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 nu harThe bottle that I'm writing about and that you see pictured here, was a prezzie I picked up in New York this summer. Tenuta Rapitalà Nuhar Nero d'Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 is the bottle. (Nuhar appears as two words "Nu har" but apparently nuhar is the arabic for flower.) It's an affordable quaffer, but the nearly as much as its little brother is. That one is strictly a Nero d'Avola varietal and it is both less expensive and more expressive (a swell combo) and on sale locally (follow the link). The Nero d'Avola varietal from Rapitalà makes for a very enjoyable, distinctive wine, but I think I gravitate more to Rapitalà's Nero d'Avola blend. I love Nero d'Avola to be sure, but it can hit rough patches and end up lacking some smoothness.

Corvo seems to approach this by blending the variety with regional grapes Perricone and Nerello Mascalese. The resulting wine is supple and ripened and retails for a similarly inexpensive price.

But back to big brother Rapitalà I got in New York. It takes takes on Cabernet Sauvignon to add great suppleness and deep structure to the Nero d'Avola. This really makes it sing, and I would be so bold to suggest that it's this kind of fine work that is getting Sicilian winemakers noticed so nicely at this point in time.

NOTES FROM MY TASTING

Rich magenta tinge with a sweet and supple aroma. On the palate, there is a brightness to it and definite lift. Buzzy mouthfeel. Loads of gorgeous fruit though not jammy; smoky notes, though not too woody. Grenadine up front and blacker fruit on the finish. Full and luscious with nice balance and some smoothness, if a bit rustic overall. Good with a hearty lasagne.

NOTES ON THE LABEL

Two wine varieties: the Nero d'Avola rich in tannin and body and the Cabernet Sauvignon which responds to the heat of Sicily with colour, softness and depth unlike elsewhere. A wine with strong notes of fruit, warm, full, balanced and mellow tannins achieved from barrel ageing.

Camporeale, Sicilia, Italia. 13.5%

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