Monday, October 27, 2008


Sicily is one of those "new frontier" wine regions we in the biz are always hearing about, with wineries from Italy, France and the U.S. going in and buying up old, existing producers and vineyards, and bringing them to the American marketplace as exciting new brands. Some of these projects are actually brand spanking new ventures, like Mirabile, a consortium of up-and-coming winemakers in Sicily specializing not only in native grapes such as Nero d'Avola and Inzolia, but also unique grape varieties to the area, such as Viognier and Tannat.

After having tried the Viognier, I picked out two of their more limited reds: the Menfri 2004 ($17.98) and the Tannat 2005 ($22.98).

Mirabile Menfri 2004. The Grade: OUTSTANDING. The Mojo: The Menfri 2004 is garnet-to-purple-colored, this interesting red blend of Nero d’Avola, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Menfri 2004 is expressive with rich cranberry and currant aromas and flavors, with hints of tobacco, baked cherry, black tea, and fennel. It is soft and supple, with medium body and mild tannins. Quite a change of pace for any Italian wine fanatic or otherwise. This red wine is extremely limited – only 240 6-bottle cases were produced.

Mirabile Tannat 2005. The Grade: AMAZING. The Mojo: Now for something completely different, the truly unique Tannat 2005, a grape variety usually found in the Madiran of France or from the emerging wine region of Uruguay, this typically potent, robust red grape shows off less earthiness in the nose than a Madiran, with raspberry and blackberry aromas. It’s really juicy, with lots of black grape, ripe blackberry, black currant and pomegranate flavors, intermingled with hints of cinnamon, chicory, and even some espresso and milk chocolate notes. It’s quite tasty, with a semi-dry, long-lasting finish. The cool factor alone is off-the-charts, yet this wine is more than just a novelty. Only 660 6-bottle cases were produced.

These two are wonderful examples of what is coming out of Sicily - both cutting edge winemaking and traditional sensibility. Give them a try.

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