Wines in the Area of Ragusa   

Brief Summary of the Cerasuolo Wine.

 

By Nino Greco 

 

 

Nino Greco is a wine connoisseur, who lives in Vittoria.  

Mr. Greco has a thorough appreciation and love for good cooking and quality wines; he has participated in countless wine tasting, he has conducting conference not only to spread his passion, but also to pass on his personal knowledge and expertise in the selection and paring of wines.  

Mr.Greco has participated to conferences, seminars and training offered by F.I.S.A.R.- Federazione Italiana Sommelieri, Albergatori e Ristoratori. (Italian Federation of Sommeliers, Hoteliers and Restaurateurs).  

 

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The large plateau facing the Mediterranean Sea, between the rivers Dirillo and Irminio in the area of Ragusa, benefits from favorable climate and a soil rich of mineral that favors all kind of agricultural production including wheat, legumes, olives, fruits especially grapes that are cultivated in abundance.  

The area contained between the rivers Ippari and Dirillo was known as Plaga Mesopotanium, that in Greek means land between two rivers. In the VI century BC, the Dorian founded the town of Kamerina, a colony destroyed by the Romans in the III century BC. This fertile land has been utilized to grow grapevines that produce quality wines in large quantities, exported all over the world.  

Due to the particular characteristic of the land, to the ideal weather conditions and to the expertise and dedication of the vintners, the wines produced in this region have good taste, robust body and elevated alcohol contents.  

In this area, in the year 1606 the village of Vittoria was founded by Vittoria Colonna Henriquez, who promoted and supported a more intensive cultivation of vines indigenous to the area and the production of wines. 

Among the native vines, the Frappato and the Calabrese were the preferred grapes for their distinctive qualities. 

Frappato is a varietal of grapes that grows in thigh fit crimson-black clusters, covered with leaves resembling a frappa, (Sicilian for fringe), similar to adornments of leaves sculptured or painted used to decorate or the rippled material used to finish or decorate dresses.  

The Frappato is a light bodied Sicilian wine with notes of strawberry and raspberry and hints of herbs, black tea and minerals.  

This smooth and silky wine makes it an easy drinking choice to enjoy as aperitif or to pair with cheeses, salads, grilled vegetables, or fish. 

The Calabrese vines were planted by the Dorian that brought them from Avola, a territory in the eastern part of Sicily. This vine is also known as Calabru, a morphed form of the original Calaulisi: cala meaning cane or stem of plant, from the ancient Greek kalamos and Aulisi or Avolese, from Aula, Sicilian for Avola; now it is known as Nero di Avola.  

The Nero di Avola wine marries well with pasta in red sauces, hearty game, meat dishes or strong flavored cheeses. This medium bodied wine is dry, robust and well balanced, it is dense in the mouth, offers an intriguing aroma of wild raspberries and black cherries with a light spicy finish. 

The Cerasuolo di Vittoria was produced for the first time around the time in which the village of Vittoria was established, by blending Frappato and Nero di Avola and small quantities of Nerello Mascalese and Grosso Nero.  

This exceptionally smooth and balanced wine, offers aroma of ripe fruits and hints of Mediterranean herbs; it is called Cerasuolo, from “cerase”(Sicilian for cherry) for the intense red color similar to the cherries.  

Up until recent times the vintners were selling the must to the skillful wine makers of Northern Italy, that preferred it because of the heavy body and high in alcohol contents to mix to their local wines in order to intensify and balance the taste and to give more body to their wines.  

For centuries the vintners concentrated their efforts in producing a must with the above mentioned qualities and in the largest possible quantities to achieve the highest profits.  

In the last few decades, when the wines DOC (Denomination of Origin Controlled) produced in western Sicily were successful accepted in the national and international markets, the local vine growers began to cure the quality of their production, following detailed methods and rules until in 1973 for the first time the Cerasuolo was recognized as a DOC wine.  

To guaranty a product with high standards of quality, immediately stricter rules were established and only specific territories were conferred the privilege to bottle Cerasuolo DOC.  

The Cerasuolo DOC wine is produced exclusively in Vittoria, Comiso, Acate, Chiaramonte Gulfi, Santa Croce Camerina in the province of Ragusa, and in the province of Caltanissetta , in Butera, Gela, Mazzarino, Niscemi and Riesi; Cerasuolo D.O.C is also bottled in Mazzarone, Lecodia Eubea and Caltagirone in the province of Catania.  

In 2005 the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita –D.O.C.G. – was bestowed to the Cerasuolo di Vittoria, with precise regulations limiting the area of production with specific codes regarding the blend of the Nero di Avola at a percentage between 50 to 70 and for the Frappato from 30 to 50 per cent.  

The high quality of these grapes must be obtained without “forzatura” which is the use of heat, watering or other special treatments; another severe ordinance established that minimum 4000 vines must be cultivated for each hectare,(one hectare is about 2.5 acres) and that the maximum harvested grapes for hectare must be below 7 tons.  

The characteristics and virtues of this elegant wine, ruby-cherry in color are numerous: it is dry and rather robust; it exhibits the taste of ripe cherry with exotic aromas beside a hint of currant, cloves and herbs. Its intense soft and persistent fresh and complex taste leaves a voluptuous impression to the palate.  

Following a list of some of the producers of Cerasuolo di Vittoria, DOCG:  

Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Sicily, Italy 

Maggio ViniCerasuolo di Vittoria Classico DOCG, Sicily, Italy  

Azienda Agricola Cilia, Occhipinti & Strano Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Sicily, Italy

Valle dell'Acate Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico DOCG, Sicily, Italy 

Gulfi Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Sicily, Italy 

Feudo di Santa Tresa Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Sicily, Italy 

Avide Barocco Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Sicily, Italy  

These wines are often enjoyed by the local population and also exported all over the world; the cost is modest and affordable compared to their excellent qualities.  

Serve the Cerasuolo, the Cerasuolo di Vittoria or the Nero di Avola at room temperature or around 65 degrees; enjoy any of these wines with your favorite pasta, veal, rabbit, pork or grilled meats and strong tasting cheeses.  

The Frappato is served between 60 to 65 degrees; it is a nice aperitif and goes well with salads, mild cheeses, chicken and fish.