Planeta Wines in Sicily, to taste wines made from some of these indigenous grapes, I was eager to attend.
The event was held at Legal Harborside, which I had not previously visited, and it is an impressively designed restaurant. Three stories, lots of glass and the back looks out on the harbor, which can be a stunning view dependent on the weather. The first floor is intended to be more casual while the second floor is more elegant, and the third floor is a year round deck lounge.
Planeta Wines is less than 20 years old, having been founded in 1995 by three cousins: Alessio, Francesca and Santi Planeta. They now own 6 distinct
wine estates, totaling about 390 hectares of vineyards, across Sicily, including Ulmo at Sambuca di Sicilia, Dispensa at
Menfi, Dorilli at Vittoria, Buonivini at Noto, Sciara Nuova on Etna at Castiglione di
Sicilia, and La Baronia at Capo Milazzo. They are devoted to environmental sustainability, and continue to work at making their wineries as environmentally friendly as possible. The reason they do so is: "Because the land and the environment are a collective benefit as well as the company’s heritage, and it is a duty to make every effort to preserve it.".
Though Sicily has intriguing indigenous grapes, and Planeta produces wines from many of them, they have also introduced some international grapes as well, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. They believe that wineries worldwide are often judged based on wines made from such grapes, as well as the fact that consumers are far more willing to purchase wines made from those grapes rather than some exotic Italian grapes. It is much easier to sell a Chardonnay than a Carricante. I understand their reasoning, but for me, it is those indigenous grapes which I find the most compelling. It is the indigenous grapes to me which often seem to best reflect the terroir.
This is the first vintage of this Brut, only 6000 bottles were produced and it is not yet available in the U.S. It remains on the lees for at least 12 months before disgorgement and has an alcohol content of 12.5%. This was a delicious sparkling wine, crisp and clean with flavors of green apple, lemon and a thread of minerality. A fine apertif, it would pair well with a variety of foods as well, from seafood to cheese. Though it isn't available here yet, it was educational to experience the potential of the indigenous Carricante. As I believe this was the first time I had ever tasted a wine made from this grape, I was impressed.
With a course of Roasted Sablefish, we drank two different vintages, 2005 and 2007, of the Santa Cecilia, produced from 100% Nero d'Avola. This wine generally sees 12 months aging in French Allier oak, 2nd and 3rd use. The 2005 was excellent, with a spicy aroma and a light, easy drinking style despite its complexity. Delicious red fruits, spice accents and mild tannins. The 2007 ($43) is a bigger wine though not a powerhouse. A similar flavor profile, though with brighter, bolder elements. I would love to drink these wines with a hearty pasta dish. Another strong recommendation.