Wines of Sicily - Northwestern Wine

Wines of Sicily

Italian Wine Sicily Milazzo Maria Costanza Red Wine

We are indeed lucky have access to the products of this winery and we are the sole importers into Ireland.  For over 25 years Milazzo wines have been winning prestigious awards on the international stage.  This wine is one of them. Nero d’Avola is one of the most important indigenous grape varieties in Italy and does well in hot, dry climates. It is no surprise, therefore, that it thrives in Sicily where it is arguably the best-known native variety. The Maria Costanza Red from this organic wine-making family is made 100% from this grape and has been a multiple award winner over the years including a gold medal at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles.  Aged for around 36 months in barriques of different woods and also in stainless steel vats, it receives a minimum of 6 months of final maturation in bottle. With an intense dark red colour there are notes of red fruit, blackberries, cherries and spices. At 14% alcohol it is a powerful, full-bodied wine with great structure, soft, silky tannins and a long finish. It will go well with pasta, lamb or other meat dishes as well as cheeses and will age for 5-10 years.

This is the first time we are offering the Riserva of the red Maria Costanza. Also made from 100% Nero d’Avola, the grapes for this wine are selected from one select part of the vineyard from which the original flagship cuvée of Maria Costanza Rosso seen above was made. This particular area has specific soil and climatic characteristics and the clone from which it is made also has its own peculiarities. The vines are thinned to reduce the number of grape bunches which enhances the aromatic and phenolic range of the fruit.  Harvested in mid-October, it has a long maceration period resting on the skins for about thirty days and spends 24 months in oak. Deep red in colour, it has aromas of blueberry, blackcurrant and chocolate. It is full, fruity and intense on the palate with a fine tannic structure and an excellent finish.  Red or white meat, pasta or cheese will all be well accompanied by this wonderful wine.  Still has plenty of staying power and will keep for another decade.

Duca di Montalbo is a complex red wine made from specially chosen clones of Nero d’Avola and Nerello Cappuccio. Only produced in selected years, the vines grow in the Montalbo area of the Milazzo vineyards. The soil is technically 100% calcareous marl containing large amounts of calcium.  If water stress is good for grape vines, this site must be optimal having been described as a lunar landscape!  Only vines from vineyards over 50 years of age with very low yields are used. There is a long ripening period and the harvest is relatively late towards the end of October.  Bunches are manually selected and gently destemmed before final berry selection. The grapes are transferred to vertical tanks for a long maceration period. Different barrels were used for Nero d’Avola and Nerello Cappuccio and the wine rested for 48 months in wood before being bottled. 2007 is regarded as an excellent year for red Sicilian wine with a long, hot summer exceptional for grape maturation. Described by the makers as “our most precious red wine” it is deep red in colour with aromas of blackberry, plum and spices. Powerful and full-bodied on the palate, it is rich in silky, soft tannins of exceptional quality with a long and persistent finish.  An ideal accompaniment to meat and poultry dishes, the 2004 vintage swept the Gold Medal at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles.

As well as a delicious red Maria Costanza, there is an equally delicious and unusual white.  The predominant grape is Inzolia, an Italian grape planted primarily in Sicily but a small amount of which is also grown in Tuscany where it is known as Ansonica. Inzolia is also used to make Marsala, the Sicilian fortified wine. For the white Maria Costanza, Inzolia is combined with selected Chardonnay, a blend pioneered by Milazzo in Sicily. The grapes are harvested, gently pressed and the juice is refrigerated.  It has a natural cold clarification for 12-24 hours. The must is then fermented at controlled temperature with specially selected yeasts.  Fermentation is carried out 90% in stainless steel vats but a small portion is fermented in smaller oak barrels adding complexity.  This is further enhanced by allowing the wine to rest on the lees for about 6 months. During this time, it is subjected to bâtonnage, or agitation, to promote further exposure of the wine to the sediment. Final maturation is in bottle for about 2 months before release.  The result is a wine of a  beautiful yellow colour with aromas of lemon, pineapple and peaches. Its fine structure, its wonderful full and mouth-cleansing body and its lingering finish ensured that this Maria Costanza wine would win international awards.  That started in 1994 and hasn’t stopped since with the latest being a Gold at the Challenge International du Vin in 2019.

Chardonnay is the grape which grabs the attention of the wine drinker who sees a change in Sicily.  The native Catarratto, Inzolia and Malvasia have been the well-known traditional white Sicilian work-horses but Chardonnay is now also to the fore.  Historically associated with the colder climate of Burgundy, it is has become well-established in Sicily. There are two offerings from Milazzo: Maria Costanza Bianco a blend with Inzolia and this, Selezione di Famiglia, a varietal Chardonnay.  Harvested in the middle of August, these unusual clones of Chardonnay have characteristically small bunches and a very low yield per vine. The grapes are gently pressed and the ensuing must commences temperature-controlled fermentation with selected yeasts in steel tanks.  The must is then transferred to oak barriques for twelve months where it will complete fermentation. Here, the wine is frequently stirred to maximise contact with the lees adding to complexities of bouquet and flavour.  Light yellow with greenish hints, there are aromas of tropical and citrus fruit and vanilla. Elegant, well-balanced, full-bodied and fruity on the palate there is a persistent and fresh finish.  A lovely wine to accompany fish, poultry, shellfish and cheese.

Another Nero d’Avola based wine made but this one is combined with a number of other red varieties.  The Milazzo winery keeps experimental fields for a number of grapes and these have been used to create Fancello.  The selection may change from year to year and may include international varieties or local Sicilian grapes such as Perricone or Nero Cappuccio.  The changing blend making this wine a fascinating moving target for the palate.  For this wine, the grapes undergo a cold soak for 24-48 hours.  The must is then pumped over the skins for about a week to extract maximum colour and flavours.  When fermentation is complete the wine rests for 12 months in stainless steel vats and final maturation is in bottle before release.  A deep ruby red with hints of violet it has aromas of cherry, plum and spice.  Smooth and rich on the palate, at 14% alcohol it is full-bodied, intense, and well-balanced with a beautiful finish.  Excellent with red meat, poultry, cheese or why not try with some typical Sicilian dishes you could prepare yourself such as pasta alla norma or arancini.

Terre della Baronia is a 5 square kilometer area in the Milazzo vineyards about 400 metres above sea level. It has a unique and characteristic mixture of soils. In some areas, the clay is dark with a high organic content while elsewhere the soil is quite chalky. The vine growers say the clay has constant fertility while the chalky areas ensure rich and complex aromas. Vines have been chosen to optimally harness these unique soil types resulting in very aromatic grapes.  Nero d’Avola is here combined with Perricone.  The latter is grown widely in Sicily and may be combined, as in this case, with other red Italian grape varieties. The resulting wines are often deeply colored, full-bodied and high in alcohol.  After cold soaking for 24-48 hours, the fermentation takes place over about 3 weeks with daily pumping over to extract colour and aromas. The wine then rests for 12 months partly in stainless steel and partly in oak, finally maturing in bottle.  Dark red in color, there are aromas of blackberry, black cherry and licorice.  It is full-bodied and fruity and has an excellent finish. Enjoy with beef, venison, duck and goose and, of course, cheese.

The Terre della Baronia vineyard is also planted with vines of the Catarratto grape, sometimes known as Catarratto Lucido.  This white Italian wine grape is widely planted in Sicily. With its typical Mediterranean climate, summers are temperate and the winters are gentle in the vineyard. The sea breezes favour optimal variations in temperatures between night and day.  The east-facing part of the plateau of marl and calcareous clay ensures these vines thrive. Catarratto can make full bodied wines when used alone, as in this case.  Elsewhere in Sicily, however, it may be blended with local grapes such as Carricante and Minella Bianca. Milazzo control temperature strictly during the fermentation of their wines. This is no exception. Following this, there is a balanced mix of aging for 4 months on the lees in stainless steel and then oak barriques, final development taking place in the bottle.  At 13% alcohol the wine has a beautiful straw yellow color with aromas of white fruit, apple and pear.  Full and balanced on the palate, it has a wonderful combination of fruit and acidity making it an ideal accompaniment to fish, chicken, turkey and other white meats.

Vignavella is another interesting wine made from Catarratto.  Often used as a blending grape, Catarratto had the reputation of not being able to stand alone very successfully.  Recently, however, careful selection and vinification has produced very interesting and different white wines with fruity textures and characteristic fresh notes of lemon.  Vignavella from Milazzo comes from a selected clone registered as V10 and is an old biotype of Catarratto.  The wine is produced from grapes grown on two different sites in the vineyard:  Vella, a clay and chalk plateau, and Munti, a gentle north facing slope with a high organic soil content.  The different areas contribute their own aromatic nuances to the wine.  Cold maceration for 24 hours follows the September harvest and the must is then fermented at a controlled temperature.  The maturation may vary from six to twelve months with final bottle aging for a further three. A beautiful yellow colour with aromas of peach and pineapple, the wine is full-bodied and well-structured.  It is fruity and, at 13.5% alcohol, powerful on the palate with a lingering finish.  Wonderful with turbot, hake, brill and prawns as well as poultry, pasta and cheese.

Perricone is a native Sicilian grape frequently blended with Nero d’Avola.  It may also be blended with other typical Italian grapes occurring in Sicily such as Nerello Mascalese and Sangiovese. The international varieties Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are also sometimes used. Less commonly, as in this case, it makes an interesting and different varietal wine. Fondirò is made from a very old Perricone clone known as V12. Grown in the Fondirò plateau, this area also has a high calcareous clay content. A steep, craggy hill as well as the vineyard aspect and altitude confer a very favourable mesoclimate for cultivating this grape.  Harvest is in mid-October and the grapes are transferred to vertical fermenters with mechanical soft plunger systems for 30 days. Aging is partly in stainless steel and partly in new oak for about 36 months with a final maturation in bottle for an additional minimum of 12 months.  Notably, the wine is labelled simply Vino Rosso avoiding the need to conform with DOC/DOP or even IGT/IGP regulations.  The result of the viticultural and wine-making endeavours is a wine which is deep red with purplish hues. The bouquet suggests plums and dark berries while on the palate it is powerful, full-bodied and fruity with a long-lasting aromatic finish. Enjoy with grilled meat, cutlets, steak, venison, chicken parmigiana or even some lovely Carrigaline cheese.

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