Offering a welcome respite from Italy’s Pinot Grigio- and Sangiovese-based wines, Sicily also delivers tremendous value. Here’s a tour of the island in three bottles.
Cusumano Syrah 2011, $10.50
In 2001, Alberto and Diego Cusumano took over their Old World family winery and became players in the New World market. Open with saucy, slow-smoked ribs.
Ponce notes: “While it has the fruitiness of Australian Shiraz, the similarities end there: It’s lighter, less confected, and easier to drink. It’s also significantly cheaper and a prime candidate for fall house red.”
Villa Tonino Grillo 2011, $13.95
Also used to make Marsala, the Grillo grape is a Speedo-clad Euro sunbather, standing up to Sicily’s scorching summers. Try this bottle from Vintages with garlic shrimp.
Ponce notes: “Aromas of lemon, lime, and unripe honeydew aren’t exactly intriguing. But the flavour profile is, with honey accenting the citrus and a finish that lingers like a nightcap on a first date.”
Morgante Nero d’Avola 2010, $14.95
Named after a town on the southern tip of the island, Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s workhorse grape. Another one from Vintages—try with spaghetti and meatballs.
Ponce notes: “The bouquet unleashes ripe plums, cherries, and a beguiling undercurrent of freshly sharpened pencil. It’s a muscular red, but with soft tannins and medium acid, it’s more of a gym rat than a lumberjack.”