‘I have always been awestruck by the purity and true-to-type aromas and flavors that owner Fabio Sireci is able to tease out of Nero d’Avola. Just as importantly, his two single vineyard Nero d’Avolas, Lagnusa and Vrucara, also showcase the characteristics of specific Sicilian terroirs. The two are absolute benchmarks of traditionally made Nero d’Avola wines.’ Ian d’Agata, vinous.com, September 2016.
This indigenous Italian grape variety (Nero d’Avola) barely gets a mention in my old, dog-eared copy of Jancis Robinson’s Vines, Grapes and Wines, which possibly reveals how it had fallen out of favour in the 1980s. Fortunately, that has since changed and today there are a good range of hugely impressive examples from this often-overlooked variety that are being championed by clued-up critics. Its name, d’Avola, comes from the southern part of the province of Syracuse in Sicily, where it is highly regarded for producing age-worthy wines. However, it is also known as Calabrese, hinting at the fact that it is equally at home on the mainland, in Puglia and as its name suggests, the toe of Italy, Calabria.
When my colleague, Seb, told me after our Perricone offer that we should really taste Feudo Montoni’s Nero d’Avola ‘Vrucara’ too, I had high expectations, as Seb has a good palate and his tips normally pay off! Wines from Nero d’Avola can be deep, full-bodied, with good structure and bright acidity. I tend to find notes of red fruits, cherry, raspberry as well as black cherry, plum and mulberry. There is often a slightly minty, herbal note as well as hints of Asian spice. It deals with the heat of southern Italy well to produce wines with fine balance; fresh and poised but not lacking in juicy, ripe fruit.
It suffices to say that the 2016 single vineyard ‘Vrucara’ from Feudo Montoni is a beautiful wine that ranks among the best expressions of this variety that I have tasted. I can’t recommend it highly enough, particularly given that it is offered at a very fair price point – Nero d’Avola seldom attracts lofty prices even if it does win critical acclaim when produced by quality-conscious producers. Take note – it is a far finer example than its price point might suggest.
Some background on the estate:
The Feudo Montoni estate has a long history, with records showing winemaking here dating back as far as 1469. Rosario Sireci purchased the Feudo Montoni estate in the late 19th century, and now it is his grandson Fabio who is at the helm. Located in the very heart of Sicily, the Montoni estate stretches 80 hectares, with vineyards between 500 and 700 metres above sea level on east-facing slopes. The inland location and east-facing aspect are crucial factors to ensure full phenolic ripeness of this very late ripening variety, and the altitude ensures cooler night-time temperatures, enhancing aromatics and freshness. For the last 30 years, Fabio has been upholding his grandfather’s philosophy of making traditional wines with minimal intervention. Today, Feudo Montoni is certified organic and all work in the vineyard is carried out by hand, before fermentation in a mixture of cement tanks and old oak barrels, with very little new oak employed so as not to mask the expression of the variety and terroir.
Please see below for Eric Guido’s review on vinous.com. I haven’t included my own as oddly enough our notes were very similar – I mentioned mint, sweet cherries, liquorice, a sleek, satiny texture, bright acidity, something mineral, abundant juicy dark fruits, the finesse of the tannins and a hoisin-like note of complexity. It is drinking beautifully now and will be interesting to assess in four to five years’ time…you’ll see what I mean when you read the following note!