Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Wine for Today: Zisola Sicilia IGT 2004

Sicily has become one of the hottest players on the Italian wine stage, and a great many wineries from other parts of Italy are buying into the island. Among them is the Mazzei family, whose ancestors were among the first winemakers mentioned in Italian commercial records, and who have been making wine at Fonterutoli, in Chianti Classico, since 1435. Their Sicilian estates is located near Noto, a beautiful Baroque town not far from Syracuse, and they have just released the first vintage of Zisola, a wine made exclusively from Nero D'Avola grapes.

The 2004 vintage is lively cherry ruby with black reflections and an extremely powerful, fresh bouquet that begins with a rush of violets and some roses, supported by jammy berry fruit with some cedar and nutmeg underpinning. There's a lot going on in a decidedly luscious key, and though it is voluptuous, there's also an undercurrent of strength -- no sag. On the palate it's impressive, with powerful black cherry and red plum (not prune) fruit that gains deft direction from plum acidity and the bitter aspects of the tannins, which lead into a long fruit laced finish. A friend of mine who prefers more austere wines would be muttering about "sex-pot fruit bombs," but even he would find something to like here because an undercurrent of acidity keeps the fruit in line, and the wine on its toes; it's not the least bit settled, but rather greets you with a smile and questioning eye. At the risk of sounding obvious, I'd drink it with a thick steak, or lamb -- either stewed or roasted.

Well worth seeking out. Score: 90

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