This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Wednesday, Sep. 24, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20080924.php.
Great value Sicilian red
Nero d'Avola ("The Black wine of Avola") may rank as Sicily's trademark red wine. Big, fruity and hearty, coming from a region that's only beginning to gain the wine world's respect, it's a natural for vinification in a blockbuster style that chases critical points.
Oddly enough, for me this situation turns the usual price-to-value equation upside down: Show me a pricey, high-end Nero d'Avola, and I'll prejudicially assume that it's a wine I won't enjoy, a monolithic fruit bomb made in a "New World" style to captivate the taste buds of critics like Robert M. Parker Jr. and the tasting committees at Wine Spectator.
But show me a budget-priced Nero D - particularly one brought in by an importer whose portfolio earns trust - and I'll likely snap it up, figuring that there's a fair chances that the lower-end producer lacks the time, money or motivation to be chasing critical points.
I took a smallish $9 gamble and won with today's tasting, Villa Pozzi 2007 Nero d'Avola Sicilia, a wine so modest that the front label bears only the raw basics: "Villa Pozzi Wine of Italy Nero d'Avola." You have to turn to the back label to find that it's an IGT ("Indicazione Geografica Tipica" wine from Sicily; and the 2007 vintage shows only in tiny print on the neck capsule.
It's a dark, dark wine, as the name "Nero" ("black") suggests, with good, ripe plum aromas enhanced with notes of licorice and spice. Fruity but not over-the-top, it's well structured with acidity and a back note of soft tannins that suggest at least a few years' aging potential. It's the kind of simple, rustic and enjoyable Nero D that used to dominate the niche. My tasting report is below..
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Villa Pozzi 2007 Nero d'Avola Sicilia ($8.99)
Very dark purple, with a reddish-violet edge, typical of this grape. Black plums, a hint of licorice and subtle spice, not overly complex but appealing. A big mouth full of juicy black fruit is well structured by tart acidity and soft but distinct tannins. Quite a wine for well under $10, and it offers some reason to believe it will cellar well. U.S. importer: W.J. Deutsch & Sons Ltd., Harrison, N.Y. (Aug. 31, 2008)
FOOD MATCH: Normally I'd think of a red meat match with this variety that's so often made as an inky blockbuster; but this Nero d'Avola is made in a more refined style, and it shows up well against the flavors of pork chops pan-roasted with plenty of garlic.
VALUE: With fine quality for well under $10, it qualifies as a "recession buster" special.
WHEN TO DRINK: There's no real reason to rush this fine young 2007, and it should keep and possibly gain complexity over three to five years in the cellar, although I wouldn't load up on it as an investment.
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