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2016 Portelli Cerasuolo, Vittoria, Sicily   

he Nerello Mascalese-based wines of Mount Etna have probably been Sicily’s hottest vinous exports in recent years, but by no means are they the only exquisite bottlings the island has to offer. Calabrese, also known as Nero d’Avola, grows throughout Sicily and is the foundational grape for many outstanding rossi. The best examples arguably come from Cerasuolo (CHAIR-uh-SWOLE-oh) di Vittoria, the island’s only DOCG, and are blends of Frappato and the earlier-ripening, less-finicky Calabrese. Salvatore Portelli and his son Alessandro fashion their Cerasuolo from 70% Calabrese and 30% Frappato. If you have tasted Calabrese-based reds from other parts of Sicily, you will notice that this one is more refined and less brawny. That difference is partly due to Frappato’s lighter, juicy, and fruit-forward nature, which serves to counterbalance Calabrese’s power. But it is also true that Calabrese grown in Vittoria’s soils of clay, limestone, and sand tends to possess more elegance than it does when produced in other Sicilian terroirs. This rosso has enough vibrance and freshness to drink well on its own, but just enough tannin and acid to be versatile at table, particularly alongside your favorite Italian classics. —Tom Wolf