Wine of the Month
Note: Create joy, one sip at a time.
Featured Wine: Gulfi Nerojbleo
Grapes: 100% Nero d’Avola
Production Zone: Chiaramonte Gulfi, Italy (Sicily)
Color: Ruby Red
Price: Around $20
I feel like we need to stick with wines we can sip sans food, because, I feel like I want to sip wine a lot more these days. And now, because I am stuck in the mountains of Arizona, pairing is getting a little more complicated as my food options are limited. Quite frankly, this town is always lacking in options, but now, well, let’s just say I’ve lost some weight. Plus, for some reason, many people are doing very little to respect social distancing around here, which makes me not want to go out. Just the other day I was at a grocery store, and this woman stood right next to me (like a foot away) and was breathing heavily. It was weird and invasive and even during ‘normal times’ would’ve bothered me. But fear not, I came home and made a Clorox and Lysol martini. Take that Covid-19! So yes, I am pairing wine with disinfectants at this point. No, I’m not.
Now to the good stuff, this baby had me as soon as the heavenly aroma wafted from the bottle; the nose is filled with a touch of earth, rich dark fruit, berries, a soft hint of vanilla and a very tiny bit of oak. Maybe you are like me and not a big fan of either vanilla or oak. Because of this, I braced myself for the first sip, to my surprise, it was full of plum, black cherry, berries, tobacco and black pepper. The finish is made of soft acid, some tender tannins, a whisper of vanilla. So, yes, this wine is very fruit forward and incredibly balanced in all aspects. A bit of a chill on this wine and the vanilla is hardly detectable.
This is the interesting part, the black pepper in this wine reminded of some of my favorite red wines from regions in France, such as Cote du Rhone, and then when I was reading the vineyard’s history, I learned that Vito Catania first learned to love wine in France. So even though production began in Chiaramonte Gulfi, Italy, the French influence was prevalent. Nerojbleo was their flagship label, first produced back in 1980. Rather than mass produce, using chemical fertilizers, they took the route of organic production, they are certified, this, I sincerely appreciate. They want to maintain the health of their soil, as well as the health of the people who drink their wines, a very nice sentiment. Also, interestingly, because of the dry heat in the region and their choice not to irrigate, the grapes don’t suffer many plagues, so, pesticides are not even needed. The grapes are harvested by hand, (they feel it does less damage to the grapes, while simplifying the sorting process). They are then vinified with skin on maceration and aged in French oak barrels for at least one year. Once the wine is bottled, it is aged another 2 years. It is said that the Nero d’Avola grape ages remarkably well, but this enthusiastic wine drinker hasn’t had the chance to find out if it’s true.
The structure of this wine makes it a fine companion for steak. I had it with chicken parmesan cutlet, quinoa and a light mixed green salad in a garlicky lemon and olive oil dressing; what a delicious combination. The parmesan’s tanginess with this medium bodied, low acid gem of a wine was a very special treat. Gulfi’s Nerojbleo would be just as good with a baguette, olives and aged cheese. I kept thinking that eggplant parmesan might have been even better than chicken with this wine, just a hunch. And remember, this wine is beyond fine without any food.
There are so many scenarios for this wine, cleaning out a closet, catching up with old friends on Zoom, binge watching Hoarders (then really cleaning out your closets), relaxing while your kids are slowly destroying your home…these are all ideal. Hopefully you have some green sprouting up around you; cuttings from citrus trees, cherry trees or dogwoods… perfect. If you are home with family, a partner, or even solo, mellow music is highly recommended; when I start feeling stressed out or anxious, Air calms me, as does Zero 7 (oldies but goodies in the electronica world).
Be easy on yourself, sleep when you need to, eat when you want to, and definitely check out this wine, you won’t be disappointed. A new take on an old saying: Il vino fa buon sangue, per favore non provare il disinfettanti (Wine makes good blood, please don’t try disinfectants).