Return to site

Grape of the Week: Nero d’Avola

Hello and welcome to this post Thanksgiving post! Today I want to introduce you to a delicious, full-bodied red wine that is perfect for this time of year: Nero d’Avola, from Sicily.

Nero d’Avola means “the black grape of Avola.” It is similar to Syrah in that it has a thick, black skin and produces a full-bodied, full fruit, high tannin, high acid, and high alcohol wine. The tannins are not as rough as some Syrahs, and the alcohol, while high, does not leave the wine tasting “hot” or overly spicy. It has been called, “The Syrah of Sicily.“

The aromas that Nero d’Avola produce depend on ripeness and aging. They can be bright, tart and fresh notes of bing cherry, cranberry and strawberry, to deeper darker fruit notes of black cherry, blueberry, blackberry and plum. They can, with age, even produce notes of black raisins and prunes, which give the wine an almost port-like aroma.

The flavors of Nero d’Avola range from citrus and tropical fruits—if the wine is young—to black fruits and dried fruits—if it has been aged. Several Nero d’Avola wines have a “funk” to them. That’s NOT a bad thing in this case. It means that in the winemaking process, the wine has seen some aging in old vats that have seen decades, and in a few cases, centuries of wines. It lends an old, aged barrel note to the wine, that gives it a rustic, “Old World” flavor. These are my favorite Nero d’Avola wines. They “fit” this time of year.

These wines pair nicely with our holiday feasts, especially if you serve duck, goose, honeyed ham, venison, buffalo, or boar. It seems that the gamier the meat, the better the wine tastes. I was fortunate enough to have it with a delicious, hearty chuck roast recently. It was the perfect pairing.
Since these wines are so high in alcohol, they are suitable for longer aging. The one I had was a 2007 from Alcesti vineyards. And although it tasted amazing, I could see it cellaring for another ten years or so, and being even more amazing.

I hope you will seek out this wine, it is slowly gaining in popularity, and give it a try. Maybe surprise your family this holiday season and introduce them to this delicious varietal from Sicily.

Price range: $15-$30
*most can be bought for under or around $20!
Until next time, drink interesting wines! Cheers!