You say tomato, I say Frappato!

Photo by Flickr user Giampaolo

Photo of a Sicilian sunset by Flickr user Giampaolo

In the constant quest to find the ultimate summertime red, Annette has out done herself and brought in a fantastic Frappato.  More on the specific producer and the story of how she found the wine later.  For now, let’s concentrate on this grape, and even more importantly Sicily as a place.

Sicily, like any traditional European wine region, can trace its vinous history back to the Romans, and in the case of Sicily, the Greeks.  That’s a 2000+ year head start on California!  Anyway, like Burgundy, Chianti, Piedmonte, etc., Sicily developed their local varietals that paired well with the local circumstance and cuisine.  (Ed Behr of the Art of Eating — you HAVE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS MAGAZINE —  did a fantastic issue about Sicily a number of years ago and mentioned “Outside of Tokyo, this is one of the only places on earth to sit down to a fifteen course meal in which every plate is seafood.”)  The local cuisine is fish, and the local circumstance is intense summertime heat.  Thus, the local grapes go best with anything Sicilian, including a 95 degree summertime afternoon.  No surprise there.

Fast forward to the mid 1990’s and big wine companies noticed that on the island there are enough micro-climates to grow just about ANYTHING.  A land rush began, and has resulted in bigger, newer, internationally styled wines from large multi-national corporations.  At many wine shops in Minnesota, even in the small towns on the prairie, you can now find Sicilian Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet.  There is even a Pinot Noir out there.

Poor Frappato.  Pushed to the side by the Cabernet bully.  Intimidated by the Chardonnay.  Poor Frappato.

And that, friends, is why you should seek it out.  It’s an individualistic statement.  It’s perfect for summertime.  Less and less of it is planted.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, goes better with grilled burgers or ribs than Frappato.

Here are a couple of great articles on this grape, and another post in the future will talk about this latest producer (Valle dell’Acate).

David Rosengarten on the ‘mob mentality’ of the Sicilian wine business.

Chowhound post on ‘What is Frappato.’


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