Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Inzolia, Not to Be Confused With Émile Zola
Sicilian reds are already on the map, and burgeoning in popularity. Nero d’Avola is old hat. People ask for Cerasuolo di Vittoria by the case, by the truck if they have a deep enough cellar. Grillo is wonderful goto with steamed mussels. And who doesn’t love to say Frappato? I’m hooked on saying it myself. It reminds me of Fraggle Rock, sound-wise. Also, it gives me a Muppet-fuzzy sensation. Even Nerello Mascalese is no longer an oddball. Not since Etna Rosso has become shamelessly fashionable.
What still might be under-the-radar are Sicilian whites. Sure we’ve swigged Marsala, but most of us don’t go hunting for its constituents (except for Grillo). The other two blending buddies Catarratto and Inzolia are underappreciated, if not unknown to most wine lovers. As their mono-varietal selves, they make some very interesting and refreshing light to medium-bodied summer quaffers, but also have the stuff to be enjoyed all year long. Inzolia in particular. Inzolia is a white grape found primarily in Western Sicily which goes by Ansonica in Tuscany. In blind tasting lineups, the wine is usually betrayed by its nutty nose. Garbed in a splendidly unctuous core it is supported by bright minerality and floral notes. Weight-wise, it’s perfect for briny faire and bacon-wrapped scallops.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Hauner, if I can snag one, but I’ve also grown rather fond of Feudo Montoni’s Colle del Mandorlo. Their estate sits in the province of Cammarata where the altitude has a wide range between 400 to 700 meters above sea level. The cooler climate, relative to most of the sun-scorched Sicily, adds vibrancy to the wine. Fabio Sireci serves as the estate’s wine steward. It has been in his family’s hands for three generations. He follows the old family recipe for farming success, letting the grapes fend for themselves and cough up their “emotions”. The vines are allowed to graft onto the wild plants and work their own hocus pocus.
I find their interpretation of Inzolia to be sturdier than many other producers’. Sireci’s wine is stonier and pleasantly oily with a kiss of sea foam. Yet, it isn’t briny so much as there is a charming, salty finish. It’s a great wine with lighter chicken dishes.