My feet still dream of touching Sicilian soil but thanks to winemaker Alessio Planeta of Planeta Winery, my palate was recently swept away to Italy's largest island. Sicilian wines are garnering more attention and respect than ever before and Planeta has played an important role in this revolution. Founded in 1995, Planeta's slogan "a journey to Sicily" is more than lip service - they produce wine on 6 different estates that transverse the island. Their journey began at Sambuca di Sicilia at an estate that the family has owned since the 1600's.
Each Planeta estate is essentially a boutique winery in its own right. Each winery is built using local materials that respect the architecture of the region. In each area, Planeta meticulously cultivates indigenous and international grapes that are suited to thrive -- it is truly a terroir driven approach and you can taste it in the wines.
Frappato DOC Vittoria 2015 ($22)
Frappato is such a fun word to say and just as delicious to sip. Fruity, light, and fresh with flavors of rose, candied violet, and a hint of balsamic; this playful but beautifully made wine is produced from Frappato grapes cultivated on Planeta's seaside vineyards in Vittoria.
Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG 2014 ($24)
Grown in Sicily's only DOCG (the highest level of quality for Italian wines), this vino blends the robust power of Nero d'Avola (60%) with the flirty freshness of Frappato (40%). Cerasuolo means "cherry red" in Italian and the wine is named for its beautiful color. A lovely sip, it is supple and lively with flavors of strawberry, cherry, pomegranate, and a touch of pepper.
Dorilli Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico DOCG 2014 ($33)
The grapes for this elegant wine come from carefully selected vines at Planeta's Dorilli estate. Named after the nearby Dorilli River, the Planeta farmhouse at Dorilli is near land which belonged to their paternal grandmother. With a lovely round texture and an appealing harmony between sweet fruit and spice, this versatile vino can pair with a wide variety of foods. Alessio said that Cerasuolo is traditionally paired with fish but he also recommends it with tomato based dishes.
Noto Nero d'Avola DOC 2012 ($26)
Rich and robust Nero d'Avola is Sicily's most famous grape and this bottling from Planeta's Buonivini estate is a wonderful expression of the varietal. Dry with lingering flavors of rose, hibiscus, strawberry, and herbs; pair this beauty with red meat and hearty pastas.
Santa Cecilia Noto DOC 2011($45)
Sophisticated and supple, Santa Cecilia is Planeta's benchmark wine produced from 100% Nero d'Avola. Planeta describes Noto's white soils and ancient vines as the ideal area for Nero d'Avola cultivation. For me the true test of Nero d'Avola is a balance between power and finesse and this wine succeeds beautifully. This sophisticated wine is rich and dark with bold flavors of blackberry, plum, and blackcurrant that are balanced by lively acidity and hints of herbs, graphite, and pepper. Pair with steak, lamb, aged cheeses, mushroom based dishes, and pasta with meat sauce.