We’re pretty sure that in The Godfather II, when Kay admonished Michael about “this Sicilian thing that’s been going on for 2000 years”, she wasn’t talking about wine. But she could have been. They’ve been making wine down there for a least that long. But it’s really in recent years that the region has set the wine world a buzz (or aTwitter really.) We’ve had a few Sicilian things in stock since we opened our doors seven years ago. The COS Cerasuolo was one of our can’t-fail red recommendations for anyone looking for something in the $30-range. And Arianna Occhipinti’s wines always add a little rock-star quality to the shelves whenever the allocations come out. But New York wine society has a certain always-searching-for-the-next-new-thing quality that I am not immune to. So I was thrilled to taste the wines of Lamoresca at a Zev Rovine portfolio tasting a while back.
Zev’s tastings are always a bit of an adventure. Way too many delicious wines in one place. Overflowing spit buckets (yes, even at Zev’s tastings, we must spit.) Nicolas Palazzi’s spirits set up somewhere along the bar. A couple random importer/distributors tucked away in the corner pouring things from Switzerland, or maybe that insane cassis. Price books that are about 80% complete (and that 80% will include descriptions like “Anfora Stuff. Price: ??? Arriving: soon.” And always something you weren’t quite looking for that seems to find you hidden among the madness.
At this particular tasting, it was the Lamoresca wines. Matt, from (well, not from…he is) the Italian wine importer SelectioNaturel, was pouring them – his latest finds from the region. I immediately wanted them all. The Rosso (a blend of nero d’avola and frappato – earthier and more rustic than the COS or Occhipinti), the Vermentino (crazy, voile-y, yet somehow not heavy), and the Nerocapitano (the old-school name for frappato, fresh, delicious, absolutely glugable.) Delicious, all of them. And a great backstory in vigneron Filippo Rizzo, who after years running a restaurant in Belgium, moved to Sicily with his (yes, Belgian) wife, bought a small bit of land, and spent a couple vintages working with his cult-worthy comrade, Frank Cornelissen.
And I cannot tell a lie – I was also thrilled that I could be one of the first to carry them. I love the Occhipinti wines, but if you were to only look at a certain segment of NY wine shops and restaurant lists, you would think they were everywhere. And at prices lower than what I could afford to sell them at (and I HATE looking expensive compared to other shops.)
So here was something new. And delicious. And brought in by an importer I was really happy to support. Made by a vigneron with a great story. So I put in my order for the full line up, whenever it would arrive (and remember, this is all at a Zev tasting, so the arrival date was…. well, 'soon'.)
Soon came. The wines arrived. And they quickly earned a permanent place (permanent being a permeable concept – there are stock gaps as these are tiny production bottlings) on the Frankly Wines shelf. Now, a couple years later (give or take a vintage or two,) Lamoresca is starting to be seen “everywhere”... or at least more often than 'no where.'
Which means Lamoresca is probably no longer the next-new thing on the New York wine scene. (That would be Georgia, the country, not the state.) But that's OK. Because Lamoresca is a Sicilian thing...2000 years and all that. It will do just fine.
We currently have the Nerocapitano 2013 in stock 100% frappatto and absolutely delicious, as always. In the Rosso blends (new vintage coming soon) frappatto plays light and fresh next to nero d'avola's more brooding seriousness. On it's own, it's absolutely charming, excellent with a chill, possibly the perfect autumn red that can bridge warm sunny days and nights with a chill in the air.