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The drop: last of the summer wines

Published on September 4, 2020
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Stretch out the last days of summer with natural wine pro Alex Fitton’s top Sicilian natural wine picks

Last of the summer wines - Sicilian wines

‘As the weather starts to turn it can feel like the sunny days slipped away too quickly, so here are three Sicilian wines to remind us of the summer heat, luscious food and sandy beaches.’ 

1. SP68 2019 – Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti

Grape: 60% Moscato Di Alessandria, 40% Albanello. Organic (practises Biodynamics too) + Natural + Vegan + Unfined + Unfiltered.

Trail-blazer Arianna Occhipinti is a bit of a darling of the natural wine scene. Her home town of Vittoria lies in the far south of Sicily, just to the west of Ragusa, and gets seriously hot during summer.

The winery and vineyards are located just off the Strada Provinciale 68 where Arianna farms organically without irrigation to force the vines to venture deep into the limestone bedrock in search of water – this gives the wine an amazing tension and crisp freshness with a heady perfume. Perfect with seafood, salty snacks and pasta, this wine can also stand up to spicy Asian dishes.

Try it here.

2. Baglio Antica Catarratto IGP  2019 – Cantine Rallo

Grape: Catarratto. Organic winery + Natural + Vegan + Unfined + Unfiltered + three days skins contact.

Located in the far west of the island in Marsala, Baglio Antico is a nod to the architectural heritage of rural Sicily. Historically, farmers positioned by the sea had access to trade routes but were vulnerable to incoming attacks. In order to protect their produce from marauders, the traders sheltered in fortified buildings or baglios. 

Cataratto is a local Sicilian grape that can often stretch to the flabby and uninteresting but the three days of skin maceration brings a lovely taut dimension that encapsulates its fresh and floral nature. A very moreish wine that partners well with salty snacks and vegetarian dishes.

Try it here.

3. Frappato 2019  – Azienda Agricola COS

Grape: Frappato di Vittoria. Organic + Natural + Vegan + Unfined + Unfiltered.

COS was making natural wine before there was a natural wine scene.  Founded by three friends in the 80s (including Arianna Occhipinti’s uncle Giusto), they focused on making wines true to the land and heritage of Sicily using long-produced native grapes threatened by the wine scene’s move towards international varieties. 

The frappato grape is a favourite of mine – particularly when fermented and aged in concrete which highlights its luscious crunchy fruit flavours. Don’t expect a big bold tannic affair: this is summer juice, bright and fresh with good grip and totally quaffable. Perfect with cheese (particularly sheep’s or goats’), charcuterie or tomato-pasta dishes.

Try it here.

Bonus bottle: Huxham Keeved 2019Find & Foster

Varieties: Blend of native Devon heritage varieties. Natural + Vegan + Unfined. 

Sometimes you want something juicy, bubbly and low in alcohol to share at the beach or a picnic. Keeving is the deliberate stressing of the yeasts in fermentation in order to produce a lower alcohol, naturally sparkling, medium-sweet to off-dry cider. 

Polly and Matt of Find & Foster make it their mission to preserve and protect lost Devonian orchards and work with farmers to protect these important areas of biodiversity and heritage. Their ciders are among the finest quality in the world and regularly sit on Michelin star sommelier’s lists for pairing. We’re massive fans of theirs at Pullo, too.

Try it here.

WTF is natural wine? Read this.

Alex is the co-owner of Pullo in Exeter which specialises in natural wines and ciders.

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