Tag Archives: Sicily

Liqueur di Amarena, Giovi

Super special, rare grappa infused with Amarena cherries (not to be confused with Amarone, the dry italian red wine from Valpolicella, mainly made up of Corvina & Rondinella grapes). It has a delicate sweetness that curbs the intensity of the grappa, also seamingly aged to some capacity, although not sure if this was done before or after the addition of the cherries. The producer, Giovi, may or may not even make this stuff for public consumption anymore.

Valdibella “Acamante”, Perricone 2012

Another great example of how biodynamic farming activates an otherwise “sterile” grape variety, Perricone. I say sterile because its limited area of origin (Sicily), its use as mainly a blending grape with Nero D’Avola, and its characteristics which resemble Barbera (and Nero), with a more bitter, tannic undertone. This makes it a tough sell and one I haven’t come across much, and understandably so. It’s just not that interesting…generally.

But the guys at Valdibella, a small biodynamic vineyard in Camporeale, Sicily, have accessed the subtleties and highlighted them in “Acamante”. Rather than the bitterness tasting like a flaw, it rounds out the fruit with a dirty, earthy farmyard quality (much like many of my favorite Cab Francs). This creates a favorable balance on the tongue, something that drinks easily and is perfect to bring to a party, dinner, or have in the afternoon sun.

Not to mention that these guys are incredibly sweet and generous people. They came for a wine convention and we ended up spending 2 evenings out to dinner, talking about Validbella, their wines, and the growing natural wine market. They are learning the ropes navigating through the sea of mass producers, Bordeaux drinkers, California distributors, and american word play. But they have something the masses do not- they operate from the heart, and genuinely want to share their love of the grape. They take so many risks to get this bottle into your local shop.How can you distinguish this mentality just by drinking a glass?  It’s pretty hard, and often overlooked. But then you’re that person who had a bottle just the other week with some flora or fauna on the label, from…where was it again? and it was “pretty good”. Sounds like a great memory.

Wine always leaves a stronger impression when you meet the faces behind the grape. So let me introduce you to my friends at Valdibella:


Pictured above: Antoine & Giulia of Valdibella Wines

Susucaru, Vino Rosato, Frank Cornelissen, Solicchiata (Etna)


i found frank! his wine was on my radar for longer than i consciously realized. leafing through some old notes, i found references to “Cornelissen” , “genius” ,”Etna” and “Magma” dating back to 2011. Also, a blurry photo of an excerpt about the vineyard in Italian, taken from a book brought back by my friend Richard Krizirian. it’s mostly his doing that i discovered the Funk: the other kind of wine, the one that doesn’t play nice in the sandbox with Perrier Jouet or Beringer. it’s the kind of thing that makes you rethink everything you ever thought you knew about wine, especially all that stuff they try to throw at you in seminars and training modules. what i mean is, this took me home. i understand the taste, how it makes me feel… and as much as it’s nostalgic, it’s provocative and stimulating. it’s like a best friend and a lover- it tells me all its darkest secrets while remaining a total flirt.