21 Jul Sicilian Wine Reborn
(Posted by Taste of Italia Magazine, July 2003)
A new breed of winemakers is shaking up the wine world in Sicily. Once known for highvolume production, Sicilians are leaving big wine companies and branching out their own with estate and boutique wines. The resulting quality is something to toast.
If Planeta is Sicily’s blazing comet, Alessandro di Camporeale and Azienda Agricola Ceuso might well be its rising stars. Both are new wineries near Alcamo started by teams of sibilings who labored for years as agronomists and enologists for the provincial government or large companies, and now are fulfilling a life’s dream with their own boutique vineyards.
“How did you find me?” asks the slightly astonished Antonino ALessandro after we sit down in his office. In fact, it wasn’t easy. A tip from De Bartoli sent us to the dusty hilltown of Camporeale, and the old men in the piazza pointed us to the courtyard where he lives -along with at least four other families bearing the same name. After we finally hit the right buzzer, Alessandro welcome us in, then leads us to his unmarked vineyards 15 minutes outside of the town. There the veteran enologist and his two brothers and partners, Rosolino and Natale, show us around their new property. From the small storage room he grabs a bottle of Syrah that sports a handsome black label with ana arabic motif and the name Kaid, in homage to the profound influence the Arabs had on Sicily over the centuries. “Americans may not like that”, he says with a wry smile. But the’ll certainly love what’s in the bottle. Settling down in an informal tasting room that seems more like a family den, we taste the 2000 vintage – their very first bottling. “The 2000 keeps getting better,” says Rosolino with an approving nod. Indeed, this Syrah is an intense wine, full of spice, berries and layers of persistent flavor. We’re smitten, but Stateside purchase will have to wait until Alessandro finds a U.S. importer. Given what’s in my glass, it shouldn’t take long.