Sicilian wine adventures; Part 1 – Perricone


Here we go again. Rare grapes no-one ever heard of is not a quest of mine although I do admit my search for new discoveries leads me to varietals such as Perricone. In this case it was more understandable considering I’ve been tasting my way through Sicily since last summer. In other words; expect to find several posts on wines from the island in the near future and do remember I mainly write when I like!

What better way to start my Sicilian adventures than with an indigenous grape?

Perricone is not that popular considering how few seems interested in cultivating it. Only a handful of growers gives Perricone the chance to steer its own boat and therefore it mostly ends up in blends. Firriato makes a celebrated blend between Nero d’Avola and Perricone but not many dares bottling a premium bottle of pure Perricone.

Feotto dello Jato does! Dares that is. Their Vigna Curria is one of the few wines produced on the indigenous grape. The question is though; is it really a Sicilian grape?  Recent observations, not proven ones should be added, consider the grape to be identical with Barbera! This I found out after having tasted the 2003 Vigna Curria and sat there, struggling to explain the characteristics of the grape.

Reminiscent of Aglianico? On the nose; definitely. Palate? Not a chance.

Hmmm…Nebbiolo? On the nose there are several common denominators but there it stops.

What about the recent trend grape from the island; Nerello Mascalese? On the palate they share the similar acidity but Nerello has a classier tannin structure.

When I read the Barbera suspicions it was just one big ‘why of course’. Similarities in both bouquet and taste. Earthy notes, red berries, tomatoes, leather and a dried flowers scent. Acidity driven taste with present tannins but not taking the lead. So, is it Barbera or not then? DNA comparing will probably give us a hint. Until then it’s indigenous for Sicily. Va bene?

Nicola Colombo is the winemaker at Feotto dello Jato. He has trained under both Giacomo Tachis and Riccardo Cottarella, great Italian oenologists (if you’re not afraid of modern winemaking). Modern winemaking and an indigenous grape is the kind of combination that can go totally wrong – or just show us the true potential in a grape. In this case, Nicola shows his skills and the the 2003 Vigna Curria demonstrates how great Perricone handles two years on new barrique – without tasting of wood at all. Well, almost.

Tasting note 2003 Vigna Curria, Feotto dello Jato (91-92 points)

Maturing color but still quite intense. On the rich and quite mature nose it shows scents of plums and dark cherries, dried leather, clove, dark chocolate, warm earth, sweet tomatoes and dried roses. Not elegant but trying to get there. Most unusual bouquet but captivating, oh yes!

On the palate it’s intense with good acidity grip, mature tannins and some fruit still left. Excellent balance between the components. Earth, plum skin, licorice and slightly bitter cherries. Fine integrated oak and a hint of moist tobacco. Long, spicy finish with a nice kick from acidity.

A wine pumped full with personality and worthy of a buy. Tasted over two days and was just as good on the second day.

Want to taste it? Can be found here.

PS. Jato Valley where the winery and the vineyard is to be found, is close to Palermo.