Wine of the Month
Note: Create joy, one sip at a time.
Featured Wine: Cusumano Nero d’Avola Sicilia
Appelation: Sicilia DOC
Grape Variety: 100% Nero D’Avola
Production Zone: San Giacomo, Sicily
Vinification: manually selected grapes, cold maceration for two days, fermentation with frequent re-circulation.
Aging: malolactic fermentation in stainless steel, contact with lees for five months
Color: Deep Ruby Red
Price: Around $12
Well, what do we have here? A new year? 2021, holy shit! My new year began, actually, on the 31st at 8:45pm; that is when I tip-toed down the steps to check on my mom, after her surgery. She wasn’t asleep and called out, ‘Is it midnight yet? Happy new year.’ What a party! She was in pain, unable to sleep. Now let us jump back to the 30th of December when I was sitting in my car for 4.5 hours, waiting for my mom, while she was in surgery. Strangely, they made me wait on site the entire time; they even asked me for my car description, to make sure I didn’t leave. While I sat there, I decided to finish this very review. I had my notes, some paper and three pens. Well, within minutes all three pens ran out of ink, or maybe stopped working because of the fantastically cold, dry climate, I dunno; I was forced to observe my surroundings, all of the other sad saps sitting like suckers in their cars waiting for a loved one.
First, I observed and continued to (hopefully nonchalantly) watch this one woman. She backed in right next to me; there were so many spots, I always find it strange to park right next to a car when you don’t have to; but really what does it matter? And, really, why do I care? But then, for the next hour, she repeatedly pulled forward and then backed back into her space, over and over again. It was so bizarre.
I started thinking how compared to so many other things I’ve seen, heard and experienced, this really isn’t that bizarre. And finally, I started thinking about my friend, let’s call her Jojo, and how, if anyone, besides myself, has a weird story, it is her. And I am thinking about the weirdest story she ever told me and I am thinking, how can I tell this story, in a wine review? How does it fit in, it doesn’t, but I wanna tell it anyway.
Jojo works at LAX, she is a federal police officer; but, she started as a TSA agent; and believe me, she is never lacking in stories; working with the public is such a trying adventure on its own, add travelers and Los Angeles to the mix and it gets so much better. A young hippy chick, early 20’s and her boyfriend are headed to NYC. They are kinda dirty and sloppy, nothing too unusual; but there is something suspicious in their luggage; it is then my friend Jojo’s turn to check out the hippy chick. So, Jojo takes her to a back room where the girl has to remove her pants. She pulls down her pants and a rather large, beetle like creature crawls right out of her underpants! Jojo says to this chick, ‘Um, you have a bug crawling out of your underwear.’ And she replies, ‘I know’, with attitude, real snide like.
I love that story so much.
Happy New Year! Happy days! Cusumano’s Nero D’Avola wine is worth celebrating. When I first tried this wine, I was thinking, ‘Oh dang! I should’ve recommended this wine as a starter wine, an inexpensive introduction to the wonderful world of this native Sicilian grape.’ But no, that was a bad idea; quite like smuggling magic mushrooms in your underwear at LAX is a bad idea. You see, this wine exceeds some of the pricier bottles of the same grape. Perhaps I am bias, due to the stainless steel aging, but I don’t think so. This wine is very easy to drink; it does lack some of the complexity that other Nero D’Avola wines contain. It is a little lighter too, but definitely still a medium bodied wine. Please begin your exploration by decanting this wine; give it an hour and you’ll be set.
The nose is warm and quite fruity, from currant to red plum from black berries to tart cherry, with a touch of spice; you could, at first, be fooled into thinking you held a glass of Shiraz. And then, when you take a sip, before it really starts to sink in, you still have some Shiraz like qualities; the berry and spice remain, and it is strong, the warmth remains, like something that would feel good to drink if you had a chest cold; the similarities end there as it is much drier, lots of acidity and tannins galore, which accentuate the long finish. The fruit combats the acidity making it smooth and easy to drink alone or with food. I chose to pair it with beef tenderloin, quite rare, and roasted potatoes. I roasted the potatoes in butter and dry vermouth (an experiment from 20 years ago that I never regretted). The potatoes, fatty from the butter and subtly sweet from the vermouth; the tenderloin, soft as butter itself, lean and rare made for the best bites, and Cusumano’s Nero D’Avola rinsed it down quite stupendously, the dryness and acidity complimented the textures and flavors. All of this joy in a simple plate of food, accompanied by a stylishly simplistic glass of red wine. And you know what? This wine would’ve been great with pizza too; it is a very cooperative wine.
Meanwhile, that lady is probably backing up and pulling forward somewhere in the near distance; meanwhile, Jojo is surrounded by movie stars, rock stars, and kooks out at LAX; meanwhile, mom is feeling better; meanwhile, it is 2021 and like the beginning of each new year, I feel a little sad, but also hopeful, kind of content and excited for what’s around the corner. I sincerely wish you a very happy new year!