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What our expert thought of Accademia del Sole, Nero d'Avola




about this wine About this wine
 
Sicilian wines are great value, and the ruggedness of the island’s terrain mean that most varieties (save really cool-climate ones like Riesling) can find somewhere to suit them.  We’ve featured two Sicilian reds before but they were very different in style from each other, and from this one.
 
This is made from Sicily’s most important black grape, Nero d’Avola.  Its name means “Black of Avola”, referring to its deep colour and to its presumed origin near the coastal city of Avola in Sicily’s south-east corner.
 
If there is such a thing as a typical Sicilian red among the island’s smorgasbord of different styles, Nero d'Avola is it.  It’s the most widely planted black grape, despite the fact that its name only started appearing on labels in the Nineties.  Prior to that it was used in branded blends where its name didn’t appear or was relegated to the small print on the back.  Indeed, much of it was shipped north in bulk to beef up wines from mainland Italy, not always legally!
 
Today it has built such a name for itself that producers in mainland Puglia have rebranded their Uva di Troia variety as Nero di Troia in the hope of sharing in Nero d'Avola’s success.  That success has been founded on delivering reliably tasty reds at very reasonable prices.  Even now it’s virtually impossible to find one costing more than £15, and most are much less.  It’s like Argentinean Malbec was 15 years ago: if you see one on a restaurant wine list you know it’ll be a safe bet, and it won’t be expensive.
 
Nero d’Avola is often found blended with international varieties, especially Syrah, but this is a single varietal example made by winemaker Nicola Tucci of Accademia del Sole.  It’s unoaked, or nearly so, allowing the character of the grape to shine through.
 
the tasting The Tasting
 
A bright, fairly deep ruby, this is properly red though not as dark as some examples of this very black grape. Nero d'Avola is high in tannin as well as colour so I suspect the winemakers have limited the amount of skin contact to make a wine that would drink well young.
 
There’s a ripe and very fruity nose of blackberry jam, supported by floral scents and a herbal note of bayleaf.  Simple, but undeniably appealing.  I can’t detect any oak - this is all about the fruit.
 
It’s reasonably full-bodied but not heavy, with intensely fruity flavours of blackberries and black cherries.  Low acidity can be a problem with this grape, but this one has enough freshness to balance all that ripe fruit.
 
The moderate tannins are very smooth, providing structure (especially on the finish) without drawing attention to themselves.  Spicy notes of liquorice and black pepper join the blackberries on the warming, savoury finish.
 
Assessment
 
This is a textbook example of Nero d’Avola, showing off the grape’s floral nose and ripe blackberry fruit.  Clever winemaking has controlled the tannins while preserving decent acidity, and a couple of years in bottle has mellowed it into a smooth and savoury red that’s very easy to like.  It slips down a treat!


Tasting notes

Appearance
clear medium+ ruby
Nose

Intensity medium

Aromas ripe black fruit (blackberry jam), floral, dried herbs (bayleaf)

Development fully developed
Palate

Sweetness dry

Acidity medium

Body medium+ (13%)

Tannins medium-, very smooth

Intensity medium

Flavours ripe black fruits (blackberry, black cherry)
Finish

Length medium

Flavours as palate, spicy (liquorice, black pepper)
Other notes
No detectable oak.


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