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 Editorial  Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 148, February 2016   
Contrasts of Nero d'Avola and SyrahContrasts of Nero d'Avola and Syrah Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 147, January 2016 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 149, March 2016

Contrasts of Nero d'Avola and Syrah

The most important red grape of Sicily compared to the glory of red wines of Rhône, two distant grapes which are frequently found in the same glass

 Sicily in Italy and Rhône in France. Two distant lands, mothers of great wines, both white and red, in two territories where are also produced sweet wines, although, it should be said, in this sense Sicily has a more significant production. Nero d'Avola and Syrah are grapes very different one from each other, of course distant and not only for geographical reasons. Nevertheless these two grapes have been blended together in many wines, a meeting happened in Sicily many years ago. The famous red from Sicily, besides being used alone for the wines of the island, it is frequently blended to other varieties, both autochthonous and international. One of them is Syrah that, added in variable quantities, is found in many red wines of Sicily. In the Rhône wine area we see something different, here Syrah is frequently vinified alone and it is one of the fundamental grapes of the viticulture in this land.


 

 Two different varieties which are however interesting for our tasting by contrast, in which we will see the analogies in these grapes are really few. For certain aspects, Nero d'Avola and Syrah can be considered two complementary varieties, this can also be explained - besides the historical and opportunity reasons - by the fact in Sicily these two grapes are blended together in many wines of the island. In Sicily Nero d'Avola is blended to many allochtonous varieties, in particular Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, as well as other local red berried grapes. As for multi varietal wines, in its homeland - Rhône - Syrah is part of one of the most famous wines of this territory: Châteauneuf-du-Pape red. Syrah however plays a marginal role in this wine, as - it should be said - the main varieties making it are Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre.

 The origins of Nero d'Avola have been for a long time subject of confusion, mainly because of the many names used to call this grape. The main confusion is caused by the italianization of its most famous name, calaulisi in Sicilian dialect, italianized as calabrese, therefore supposing the origin of the grape from the neighboring Calabria region. Indeed, the name calaulisi comes from the Sicialian dialectal terms cala and aulisi. Cala comes from calea, a synonym for rracina meaing “grape” in Sicilian dialect. Aulisi means something or someone from Aula, the Sicilian dialectal name for Avola, a town in the province of Syracuse and also famous for its renowned almonds. The theory Nero d'Avola originated from the neighboring Calabria seems therefore unfounded as the meaning of calaulisi would be translated into Italian as “grape from Avola”.

 Nero d'Avola, besides being vinified alone in the entire territory of Sicily, is also part of the only Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita of the island: Cerasuolo di Vittoria. In this wine, in fact, Nero d'Avola makes the dominant part and it is blended to Frappato, another interesting red berried grape of Sicily. Nero d'Avola has a pretty wide wine making versatility, capable of giving relatively simple wines as well as of interesting complexity. Before its wine making revaluation, Nero d'Avola was mainly used as a variety capable of giving body and color to other wines. Nero d'Avola can be used both for the vinification in inert containers and in cask or barrique. Thanks to its good acidity, wines produced with Nero d'Avola, in particular when they are aged in wood, can evolve in bottle for many years, while developing an organoleptic profile of interesting complexity.

 The origin of Syrah shares, for certain aspects, the same confusion existing for Nero d'Avola and derived from its name. For a long time it was believed the red from Rhône originated from the city of Shiraz, in Iran, or from Syracuse, in Sicily. For a long time it was believed Syrah originated from Shiraz and, still today, in certain parts of the world this grape is called like the Iranian city, in particular in Australia. Recent research done on Syrah's DNA, has finally unfolded the origin of this grape, unequivocally placing its origin in the Rhône area in France. Today we can assert Syrah originated from two French varieties: Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. Specifically, Syrah has been generated from a vine of Mondeuse Blanche pollinated by Dureza, however this research could not understand when this event happened in the past.


The color and
transparency of Syrah
The color and transparency of Syrah

 Wines produced with Syrah are particularly famous for two characteristics: the good body and the evident aromas of black pepper which can be perceived in certain wines. A fascinating and appreciated organoleptic characteristic, research done on this grape found out the black pepper aroma in Syrah is caused by the presence of rotundone. This sesquiterpene is in fact found in black pepper and, besides being found in other plants as well, it is also present in wines made with Syrah. The red grape from the Rhône has been very successful in many countries of the world and today it is considered as an international variety. Syrah is in fact virtually cultivated in every wine country of the world, in particular Australia where it is very successful. Widely spread in the Rhône area, Syrah is the variety used for the production of two of the most famous wines of this territory: Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.

 Our tasting by contrast will examine Nero d'Avola produced in the territory of Syracuse - in Sicily, Italy - and a Syrah produced in the Rhône area, in France. We will choose two wines aged in cask for a short time in order to ensure the characteristics of wood to not excessively influence the organoleptic profile of the two wines. In choosing our wines, we will pay particular attention on their composition. It should in fact be noticed that, despite in the label we may read the name of just one variety, it can happen the wine is instead a multi varietal one and in which the grape stated in the label is just the main one. We will choose wines belonging to the same vintage and however having not more than three years from harvesting, in order to keep the right balance between secondary and tertiary aromas. Wines will be tasted in two tasting glasses and served at a temperature of 18 °C (65 °F).

 As usual, we will start our tasting by contrast from the appearance analysis, the one in which will be evaluated the color and transparency of wine. Let's pour the two wines in their respective glasses and tilt them over a white surface. We will start the evaluation of color and transparency from Nero d'Avola. At the base of the glass we will observe an intense and brilliant ruby red color, as well as a moderate transparency: in case we put a written text behind the glass, we can easily read it. Nuances of Nero d'Avola - observed at the edge towards the opening of the glass - confirms a ruby red color. Let's now observe the aspect of Syrah. At the base of the glass will be observed an intense ruby red, almost deep, and transparency is lower than Nero d'Avola, evidently more concentrated. Nuances of Syrah show a ruby red hue and, pretty frequently, tending to purple red.

 The olfactory profiles of Nero d'Avola and Syrah give the nose of the taster different aromas. Both varieties make of the sensations recalling black and red fruits their main aromatic characteristics, although they develop in different ways and with different aromas. In general terms, Syrah is mainly characterized by aromas which can be associated to black fruits - in particular black currant, black cherry and plum - whereas Nero d'Avola expresses both black and red fruits. Syrah is mainly characterized by dominant aromas of plum and black currant, whereas in Nero d'Avola will be black cherry and blackberry to mainly characterize the opening. In both varieties will be recognized the pleasing flower aroma of violet. Nero d'Avola and Syrah are both suited for the vinification in cask or barrique, a technique enriching - of course - the tertiary sensations of wines.

 Let's now place the glasses in front of us and keep them in vertical position without swirling. Let's now proceed with the evaluation of opening aromas of the two wines, starting from Nero d'Avola. From the glass will be perceived aromas of black cherry, plum and blackberry, as well as a pleasing aroma of violet. Let's now pass to the other glass and, without swirling, let's evaluate the opening aromas of Syrah. To the nose will be perceived a quite different profile from Nero d'Avola, in this wine it is the black currant to play the dominant role, to which follow plum and black cherry. Also in Syrah will be perceived the pleasing aroma of violet. After having swirled the glass, let's smell Nero d'Avola in which will be perceived blueberry, raspberry and carob. Moreover, depending on the type of cask used, we will perceive aromas of tobacco and vanilla. In the profile of Syrah we can appreciate the characteristic aroma of black pepper, as well as blueberry, blackberry and, thanks to the aging in wood, vanilla, tobacco and chocolate. It should be noticed both wines have a refreshing and balsamic hint recalling menthol.

 Differences between the two grapes are still evident, and in a clear way, in the mouth. Let's take a sip of Nero d'Avola and appreciate the attack. In the mouth we will perceive a sensation of moderate astringency followed by a pleasing roundness and perceptible crispness. The correspondence to the nose is good and it will be perceived flavors of black cherry, plum and blackberry. Let's now pass to the tasting of Syrah. The attack of this wine is characterized by a stronger sensation of astringency and a lower crispness, also roundness is lower than Nero d'Avola. In the mouth will be perceived the flavors of black currant, black cherry and plum. It should also be noticed the difference in structure of both wines: Syrah has an evidently fuller body than Nero d'Avola. The impact of alcohol seems to be higher in Nero d'Avola, also contributing to the sensation of roundness, giving to the mouth a pleasing and soft taste.

 The final part of the tasting is about the ending sensations which can be perceived in the mouth after having swallowed the wine. In Nero d'Avola can be appreciated a good persistence, leaving in the mouth flavors recalling blackberry, black cherry and plum, as well as a pleasing sensation of roundness and a perceptible crispness. The finish of Syrah is evidently of good persistence in which can be appreciated flavors of black currant, plum, black cherry and, in regard to Nero d'Avola, a fuller sensation of structure and astringency. Differences are perceived also in this phase, as the two wines leaves in the mouth extremely different sensations, although pleasing in both cases. Two distinct grapes, even opposite, protagonists of the red wines in their respective lands and can however go along very well, something widely proved by the many wines produced in Sicily by blending these two varieties.

 






 Editorial  Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 148, February 2016   
Contrasts of Nero d'Avola and SyrahContrasts of Nero d'Avola and Syrah Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 147, January 2016 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 149, March 2016

Wines of the Month


 

Score legend

Fair    Pretty Good    Good
Very Good    Excellent
Wine that excels in its category Wine that excels in its category
Good value wine Good value wine
Prices are to be considered as indicative. Prices may vary according to the country
or the shop where wines are bought




Adarmando 2013, Tabarrini (Umbria, Italy)
Adarmando 2013
Tabarrini (Umbria, Italy)
Trebbiano Spoletino
Price: € 20.00 Score:

Intense golden yellow and nuances of golden yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of apple, medlar and citrus fruits followed by aromas of pear, peach, pineapple, hawthorn, plum, lychee, broom, hazelnut, melon, honey and mineral.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness.
Very persistent finish with long flavors of apple, medlar and lychee.
9 months in steel tanks, 9 months in bottle.
Pasta and risotto with mushrooms and crustaceans, Sauteed white meat, Stewed fish



Montefalco Sagrantino Colle alle Macchie 2011, Tabarrini (Umbria, Italy)
Montefalco Sagrantino Colle alle Macchie 2011
Tabarrini (Umbria, Italy)
Sagrantino
Price: € 50.00 Score:

Intense ruby red and nuances of garnet red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of blackberry, plum and black cherry followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, vanilla, chocolate, tobacco, leather, graphite, pink pepper and menthol.
Tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Very persistent finish with long flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum.
36 months in cask, 12 months in bottle.
Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Contemaso Rosato 2014, Alessandro Tognozzi Moreni (Tuscany, Italy)
Contemaso Rosato 2014
Alessandro Tognozzi Moreni (Tuscany, Italy)
Sangiovese
Price: € 14.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Brilliant cherry pink and nuances of cherry pink, moderate transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of cherry, raspberry and cyclamen followed by aromas of strawberry, blueberry, plum and peach.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of cherry, raspberry and strawberry.
6 months in steel tanks.
Stuffed pasta, Risotto with meat, Roasted white meat, Roasted fish, Dairy products



Contemaso 2010, Alessandro Tognozzi Moreni (Tuscany, Italy)
Contemaso 2010
Alessandro Tognozzi Moreni (Tuscany, Italy)
Sangiovese (60%), Petit Verdot (27%), Cabernet Sauvignon (13%)
Price: € 22.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense ruby red and nuances of garnet red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of black cherry, plum and black currant followed by aromas of violet, blackberry, blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, chocolate, raspberry, iris and eucalyptus.
Properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of black cherry, plum and black currant.
15 months in barrique.
Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Broiled meat and barbecue, Hard cheese



Colli Tortonesi Barbera Rodeo 2010, Cascina Montagnola (Piedmont, Italy)
Colli Tortonesi Barbera Rodeo 2010
Cascina Montagnola (Piedmont, Italy)
Barbera
Price: € 13.50 Score:

Intense ruby red and nuances of garnet red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of black cherry, plum and blueberry followed by aromas of violet, blackberry, vanilla, cocoa, tobacco, licorice and menthol.
Properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness.
Persistent finish with flavors of black cherry, blueberry and plum.
15 months in barrique, 12 months in bottle.
Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat with mushrooms, Hard cheese



Colli Tortonesi Timorasso Morasso 2008, Cascina Montagnola (Piedmont, Italy)
Colli Tortonesi Timorasso Morasso 2008
Cascina Montagnola (Piedmont, Italy)
Timorasso
Price: € 19.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense golden yellow and nuances of golden yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of plum, citrus fruits and honey followed by aromas of quince, pear jam, peach jam, hazelnut, hawthorn, broom, hay, flint and mineral.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness.
Persistent finish with flavors of quince, plum and honey.
12 months in steel tanks, 12 months in bottle.
Stuffed pasta, Roasted fish, Roasted white meat, Mushroom soups



Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Tralivio 2013, Sartarelli (Marches, Italy)
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Tralivio 2013
Sartarelli (Marches, Italy)
Verdicchio
Price: € 12.00 Score:

Brilliant straw yellow and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of apple, hawthorn, citrus fruits followed by aromas of almond, plum, peach, pear, pineapple, broom and medlar.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of apple, plum and almond.
6 months in steel tanks, 4 months in bottle.
Broiled fish, Roasted white meat, Fish soups, Fried fish



Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Balciana 2013, Sartarelli (Marches, Italy)
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Balciana 2013
Sartarelli (Marches, Italy)
Verdicchio
Price: € 27.00 Score:

Brilliant golden yellow and nuances of golden yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of quince, apricot and honey followed by aromas of almond, citrus fruits, hawthorn, pear, plum, pineapple, chamomile, candied fruits, broom, hazelnut and mineral.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness.
Very persistent finish with long flavors of quince, apricot and honey.
8 months in steel tanks, 6 months in bottle.
Stuffed pasta with mushrooms, Roasted fish, Roasted white meat, Hard cheese



Barbera d'Alba Superiore Marun 2012, Matteo Correggia (Piedmont, Italy)
Barbera d'Alba Superiore Marun 2012
Matteo Correggia (Piedmont, Italy)
Barbera
Price: € 24.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense ruby red and nuances of garnet red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of cherry, plum and blueberry followed by aromas of violet, blackberry, tobacco, vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, mace and menthol.
Properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness.
Persistent finish with flavors of cherry, plum and blueberry.
18 months in barrique.
Stewed and braised meat with mushrooms, Roasted meat, Hard cheese



Roero Riserva Roche d'Ampsej 2011, Matteo Correggia (Piedmont, Italy)
Roero Riserva Roche d'Ampsej 2011
Matteo Correggia (Piedmont, Italy)
Nebbiolo
Price: € 35.00 Score:

Brilliant ruby red and nuances of garnet red, moderate transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of cherry, plum and raspberry followed by aromas of violet, rose, vanilla, strawberry, blueberry, chocolate, tobacco, leather, cinnamon, mace and menthol.
Tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness.
Very persistent finish with long flavors of cherry, plum and raspberry.
18 months in barrique, 24 months in bottle.
Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese






 Editorial  Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 148, February 2016   
Contrasts of Nero d'Avola and SyrahContrasts of Nero d'Avola and Syrah Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
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