Nerello Cappuccio Grape

One of Sicily’s most distinctive wines

One of Sicily’s most distinctive wines Cerasuolo di Vittoria is an appellation of the highest order in the Italian wine hierarchy. Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG received its Controlled Designation of Origin in 1973 and Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin in 2005. As the only appellation on Sicily considered worthy of D.O.C.G. status, the wines must meet certain requirements, including being made from grapes grown within a particular zone, blended in a particular proportion and receiving a certain amount of aging before release. The denomination is located on the south coast of the island of Sicily not far from the southeastern tip. The Cerasuolo di Vittoria production zone is remarkably large for a DOCG wine. Even the appellation’s official legal documentation describes it as “una vasta area” (‘a vast area’). Stretching from the province of Ragusa in the east to the Riesi in the west, it is larger than the combined area of its neighbors Riesi, Eloro, and Noto.

Soil Composition

The vast area’s soils are mixed depending on the specific area within the appellation but can be generalized as “terre gialle,” yellow soils that have a sub-alkaline pH with high minerals and composed mainly of sandstone and “terre rosse,” red soils that are low in minerals and have a strong presence of iron.

Soils also vary depending on location to sea level.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria Vineyard

Yellow Soils
Located along the coast, where the earth has a sandy-clay structure and yellow colored soils.  The soil is relatively light and provides wines with freshness and complex scents.  

White Soil
Calcareous soil roughly 250 meters above sea level that is somewhat poor and has extends deep.  The grapevines often suffer a little here and sometimes fail to grow vigorously, but allows for a stronger fruit concentration.  

Black Soil with White Pebbles
Located roughly 100 meters above sea level.  The soil is black, relatively compact and riddled with white stones.  This soil structure makes it possible for plant roots to oxygenate freely, extending down deep into the ground.  

Red Soil
This soil structure is divided between clear red sand and dark, medium density soil with good depth.  The grapevines planted in dark red soil produce are ideal for Nero d’Avola and the vines planted in clear red soil are best for Frappato.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria Vineyard

Quality

Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG is one of the most famous wines on the island of Sicily.  First cultivated in the lands of southern Sicily (where most production still resides), in the province of Ragusa, Caltanissetta, and Catania.  Since the Greek colonization in the 3rd century BC, these territories have been highly dedicated to the cultivation of grapevines.  A tradition that has never been interrupted through the course of time is the excellence of Italian enology in these areas.  The territory is characterized by a warm and Mediterranean climate, mitigated by the ocean’s breezes.

Regional Variations

General Version

The production area of Cerasuolo di Vittoria includes many municipalities located in several provinces of Eastern Sicily.  In the province of Ragusa: Acate, Chiaramonte Gulfi, Comiso, Santa Croce Camerina, Vittoria, and part of territory of Ragusa.  In the province of Caltanissetta: Butera, Gela, Mazzarino, Niscemi, and Riesi. In the province of Catania: Caltagirone, Licodia Eubea, and Mazzarrone.  

 

Cerasuolo di Vittoria Grape

Caltagirone landscape

Classic Version

Within the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, the Classico zone (Vittoria DOC) is relatively large, comprising of the area originally included in the denomination when it was established in 1973. Vittoria itself is the largest town of the Classico zone. Wines from within this area can be labeled as Classico if they are aged a minimum of 18 months. Otherwise, wines can be released in the June after harvest.

The Classico version of Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG is limited to a small number of municipalities.  In the province of Ragusa: Acate, Chiaramonte Gulfi, Comiso, Santa Croce Camerina, and Victory are accepted for the Classico production of Cerasuolo di Vittoria.  In the province of Caltanissetta: only part of the territory of municipalities of Gela and Niscemi.  In the province of Catania: part of the municipalities of Caltagirone and Licodia Eubea.

Flavor Profile

Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG produces only red wine and made from by law, 50-70% Nero d’Avola and 30-50% Frappato; no other grape varieties are allowed in the blend. It is collocated with the Vittoria DOC, which produces similar red wine (Classico) with looser standards as well as Nero d’Avola, Frappato, and white Ansonica (Inzolia) varietals.

The aromatic profile is intense with fragrant aromas of cherry, small berries, and pomegranate.  The palate has medium texture, with dynamic, fresh, and smooth notes.  The finish is pleasantly earthy.  It is an atypical Sicilian red wine which stands out above all for elegance and freshness; not for power and concentration.

Primary - Grape Influences

The Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG is born from the union of two grape varieties typical of the Eastern area of Sicily, Nero d’Avola and Frappato.  Nero d’Avola is one of  the most famous red berries in Sicily and is produced in the traditional provinces of Cerasuolo di Vittoria: Ragusa, Caltanissetta, and Catania.  Throughout the years these historical vineyards have continuously expressed results of true excellence.  

Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG is characterized by its rich fruity aromas, good texture, and smooth and succulent feel.  The Frappato is a very special red grape that gives wines great refinement and elegance, with delicate floral and fruity aromas, medium body, mild tannins, and good acidity.  The blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola creates a perfect blend of great harmony and complexity.  These grapes provide the wine with a brilliant ruby color.

Secondary - Fermentation & Aging Influences

The wine takes its name from the magnificent color that characterizes the wine, the Italian word for cherry. It is a superior quality wine that can be aged for a considerable time of up to 20 years in the best expressions and vintages. The aging requirements for the DOCG are not lengthy and require that the normal version be released on the 1st of June following the harvest.

Production amounts to about 50,000 cases.

The wines of the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG are typically ruby red in color with aromas of cherry, red berries, plum, and pomegranate. It is Cerasuolo di Vittoria’s Frappato content that is responsible for the style’s bright, idiosyncratic flavor of black cherries and strawberries. But Frappato contributes little in the way of structure. Pure Frappato wines are almost always light-bodied and low in tannins, due to the variety’s thin, delicate skins. The Nero d’Avola component brings weight and body, grounding Frappato’s frivolous fruitiness into something more serious and cellar-worthy. This explains why the best Cerasuolo di Vittoria wines typically contain slightly higher proportions of Nero d’Avola.

As noted above, the best examples will reward up to 20 years of bottle aging, but most are best consumed within 5 to 10 years of vintage. The acidity can be high for well- tended vines on the preferred soil, and the minimum alcohol level is 13 percent. Intense and fragrant, it pairs perfectly with local cuisine and red sauce (tomato) seafood.

Wine Style

Intense and fragrant, Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG pairs perfectly with local Sicilian cuisine and red sauce (tomato) seafood.

Vintages

  • 2014: This opens with scents of wild berry, rose, and a light spice note.  On the savory, easygoing palate, a touch of clove adds interest to crushed strawberry and Morello cherry.  Fresh acidity brightens the juicy flavors.
  • 2013: Opens with blackberry, red rose, and baking spice aromas.  The vibrant palate delivers succulent Marasca cherry, raspberry jam, anise, and white pepper flavors, set against bright acidity and polished tannins.  Enjoy through 2020.
  • 2012: Aromas of ripe berry, Mediterranean herb, menthol and eucalyptus lead the nose.  The medium-bodied palate is already somewhat evolved offering blackberry extract, mature black cherry, licorice, spice, and espresso alongside polished tannins.  It closes on a note of bitter walnut.
  • 2011: This fragrant blend boasts alluring blue flower, black-skinned berry and leather aromas.  The balanced, savory palate doles out ripe black cherry, clove, and licorice flavors with round, polished tannins that give it a smooth texture. Enjoy through 2021.
  • 2010: Inviting aromas include underbrush, dried berry and a whiff of cooking spice.  The structured palate offers dried cherry, vanilla, and licorice alongside firm, fine-grained tannins.
  • 2009: Elegant and feminine expression, with bright aromas of blue flower, forest fruit, and almond paste.  The wine’s natural freshness would stand up nicely to ricotta ravioli.  
  • 2008: Particularly delicate and expressive expression, with nuanced layers of wild berry, wild chocolate, and cola.  
  • 2007: This inky-colored wine is showing some age.  It offers flavors of prune, bell pepper, toast, and ground black pepper alongside astringent tannins.  The fruit is all dried up.

Nerello Cappuccio Grape

Beautiful landscape of  vineyard on the sea

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