Corte Ibla Nero D’Avola Single Estate 2015 – £12.50
Emma says: “Last night I was at a wine tasting. An unusual one, since I was told before I even tasted the wines I couldn’t buy them. They were already all bought, and too expensive for me.
I then saw the labels of these wines and it threw me even more. No words, just pictures of a semi clad ghetto-tastic lady holding a machete and sitting on a car. The winemaker was lovely, but when he came to describe his wines he spoke more about the inspiration for the labels than the wines themselves. I’m saying this because i’m not feeling much like tasting Nero D’Avola tonight. I drank a little too much of those wines….
I actually find that tasting wine whilst feeling a little “off colour” can be a very good test. The wine is going to have to try extra hard to impress me. We’re trying the Corte Ibla Nero D’Avola Single Estate 2015 which is £12.50. So we’ve pushed the boat out a little in Nero D terms. The first sniff is impressive, it has moody dark fruits with a nice herbal tinge, quite baked and heady in aroma giving a clue to the warm Sicilian climate. I know this wine is made from old vines which produce low yields with more intense flavours, and you can already sense that. On the palate this is a serious wine, it is loaded with dark spicy plum fruit but also has a nice smoky mineral dimension that gives it far more complexity than your average pizza restaurant Nero D. Although I have said it is serious I think there is something quite easy to enjoy about Nero D’Avola, it has a tutti frutti mid palate and the tannins are present but quite loose and smooth. The alcohol is warming at 13.5% but this grape holds its acidity well despite the climate conditions so it feels nicely in balance.
I’m hoping this is a wine that people who typically enjoy Malbec would find a good alternative. It has the gutsy flavours and spicy richness that should mean it ticks the same boxes.
As for food matches, this is a structured red so it would be a great match for red meats or winter stews. If you go with the logic that wines go well with local cuisine then I would try it with tomato based dishes, potentially using olives and a bit of chilli. Sicily has a really interesting cuisine that blends the traditional Italian flavours with more spicy North African influences. A puttanesca sauce would be a great match for that reason.
And finally did this glass convert me back to drinking? The truth is no, I’m looking forward to moving onto a glass of water. But I’m sure my doctor would be relieved to hear that.”
Andy says: “Sloppy Giuseppe, Capricciosa, Nero D’Avola, Quattro Stagioni. To paraphrase Sesame Street, “one of these kids is doing its own thing”, and the ‘kid’ here is Nero D’Avola. It’s not a pizza. Not a pizza not a pizza not a pizza. It should be, but to the best of my knowledge (aka ‘Google’) it isn’t.
Whilst on my Google pizza quest, I learned that “Nero D’Avola” is Italian for “Black D’Avola”. Nero being Italian for black, and D’Avola being Italian for D’Avola. Who knew?
I jest, of course, I always knew the Italian for “D’Avola”. (In all seriousness, Avola is a city/town in Sicily, and it’s a black grape from there. “Nero D’Avola” = “Black from Avola” – thanks Google!).
I was looking forward to this one, as I think I like full bodied reds, and the whole point of this 52 Grapes nonsense is to help me work that out. I still don’t quite know what ‘full bodied’ means. I would say this was definitely toward the ‘full’ end of the spectrum, but could be ‘fuller’.
Slightly leathery on the nose, and a bit of a burn after the swallow. The former (I’m told) being a characteristic of a warm climate red, and the latter being a sign of the ABV. It’s only 13.5%, but tastes more. Fruit wise, it’s at the dark end – plum, cherries, brambles etc. Andy tip: At my basic level, it’s not necessarily about tasting those specific things, it’s more of a profiling task. Is it green fruit (apple, pear, gooseberry), red fruit (strawberry, raspberry, redcurrant), or black fruit (plum, black cherry). If I get that sorted, then next would be trying to pinpoint where in each of those scales I feel the wine is.
In summary – and bearing in mind the price compared to others of a similar profile – this is a keeper.”
Lovers of Malbec, Syrah or Cabernet – this one may be for you.
This week I’ve chosen Nero D’Avola. The honest truth is that I wanted to select a grape that could only really come from one place (and has one name) because I’m getting tired of the showdown between one region and another when I choose which country to try a grape from.
Thankfully “Nero D” is the king of Sicilian red grapes, which makes it nice and easy. Unless you happen to live in France where I hear you’d be hard pushed to find anything more southern than the Rhone.
And if you do want one tip above and beyond “head to the red Italian section of your local shop”, I would say that “Vittoria” region of Sicily is where the best versions come from. Also that the bargain bucket Nero D’Avolas can be lovely, but if you trade up a little to £10 or more then you will get a chance to taste the sophistication this grape can achieve. And the Sicilians will love you for it!