Nero d’Avola, the world-famous Sicilian wine.

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The red Nero d’Avola grape, with a vineyard area of over 12,000 hectares, is the most widespread grape variety in Sicily. The quality of the vine, is appreciated all over the world for the production of fine wines. Nero d’Avola wine is, available both in purity and as a blend of various Sicilian DOCG, DOC and IGT  wines. For example, the important Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, is made from Nero d’Avola and Frappato grape. But also in other blendes, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and, above all, Syrah, Nero d’Avola is present.

Where Nero d’Avola is produced

The vine is mainly grown in the Syracusan area but is widespread throughout Sicily

Nero d’Avola is produced both in the western part of Sicily and in the eastern one. The greatest vineyard cultivation is in the south-eastern area of the island. The most suitable area is close to Syracuse, between Avola, Noto, Eloro and Pachino. Here the vineyards enjoy a dry and breezy climate, usually the training system is the espalier but, as per tradition, even with the sapling. In particular, in  Buonvini, Bufalefi, Maccari, Archi districts , the best expression of Nero d’Avolais obtained.

The History of Nero d’Avola

The origin of the vine is ancient, but its fame is recent

Although its second name “Calabrese” might suggest Calabrian origins, in reality Nero d’Avola is a native grape of Sicily. Some finds on the slopes of Etna, trace the history of the vine back to the Phoenicians, linking it to the colonization of the Greeks and Romans.

The Calabrian term, from calau and aula, in dialect, could indicate the origin of the grapes from Avola city. In the nineteenth century with the name of Calabrese, Nero d’Avola wine was particularly purchased by the French who loved to mix it with their red wines to boost color, alcohol and flavor. Given its high alcohol content, which easily reaches 15 degrees, Nero d’Avola remained for a long time a blending wine. However, it was destined to become one of the most important Sicilian’s red wine.

Around the sixties of the last century, some companies thought of making it a table wine. But it was not supposed to be wine “npetra”, expression used in Sicily to describe the wine of the countryman with which “two glasses were enough to remain petrified in the chair, with a stupid smile and the bovine eye to scrutinize the crumbs on the table” (as Gaetano Savatteri tells).

It was necessary to decrease the sugar content and increase the acidity of the grapes. Consequently, new winemaking techniques were tested which allowed the Nero d’Avola in purity to discover all its qualities. The cultivation of the vine gradually spread throughout Sicily. In the 90’s it reached the peak of its success in the Sicilian enology’s panorama.

Nero d’Avola began to introduce the wine of Sicily to the world, bringing out the region from the anonymous status of blended wine that lasted for centuries.

What are the organoleptic characteristics of Nero d’Avola

A firm wine, whose olfactory range, changes according to the production area

It has character, it is edgy but also very elegant!  At the sight, the wine made from Nero d’Avola grapes shows a brilliant ruby red color that over time becomes intense and with purple hues that tend to garnet. The flavor is intense, well spicy. On the nose you can perceive the complexity deriving from barrel aging. The olfactory range changes according to the production area. In the south-east of the island, between Noto and Pachino, more elegant and refined notes are obtained with hints of dried fruit. The terroir of the central area of the island gives the wine an aftertaste of red fruit, balsamic and spicy. Finally, the wines of western Sicily are particularly strong and decisive on the palate. Getting older, it develops aromas of cocoa, carob, cinnamon, leather and licorice. The persistence is balanced and soft.

What food to pair with Nero d’Avola

The perfect combination: Nero d’Avola and strong traditional dishes.

Red meats, roasts, game, sweet and sour rabbit and aged cheeses well support the strong structure of this wine. The pasta flavor seasoned with meat or vegetable sauces, is enhanced by Nero d’Avola. Mushrooms or battered vegetables can be served as a side dish. Even tuna, grilled or roasted, can also be match with it. To be served in medium-large goblets at a temperature of 18 degrees,this will guarantee the full expression of its aromas. But if we want to create a Camilleri-style food and wine cross-section then we have to combine Nero d’Avola with pasta ‘ncaciata, Parmiciana i mulinciani and ammuttunatu tuna ,  Sicily is served!

Which Sicilian wineries to visit to get to know and taste Nero d’Avola

Discover the Nero d’Avola tastings on winerytastingsicily.com, the reference site for wine tourism in Sicily.

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