A Wine Lover’s Weekly Review Of $10 Wines – A Nero D’Avola From Sicily

Sicily is a high-volume Italian wine producer and Nero d’Avola is the major Sicilian red grape. So how come I haven’t reviewed a wine made from this grape? Anyway, better late than never. Cusumano has 400 hectares (1000 acres) of vines in the Cattanisetta province of western Sicily. Their website is quite attractive but may take a lot of time to navigate. The Robert Parker website gave the 2006 vintage of this wine 89 points and Wine Spectator gave the 2009 vintage 86 points, but to my knowledge the 2010 vintage has yet to win such accolades. This wine carries the Sicilia IGT appellation, which is, according to one of my favorite wine experts, Tom Stevenson, the best IGT appellation on the island of Sicily. Ourcompanion wine is a somewhat more expensive Sicilian Nero d’Avola.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Cusumano Nero d’Avola, 2010 13.5 % alcohol about $10.

We can start by quoting the marketing materials. “Tasting Note: Deep ruby color, dark fruit with coffee and spice aromas; dry, medium body; cherry and plum flavors with balanced acidity; ripe tannins in soft medium length finish. Serving Suggestion: Serve with grilled lamb chops.” And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine was round and quite fruit forward. It displayed balanced acidity but it was just too thin. I started with Japanese rice crackers; in response the fruit stayed and there was a smidgen of chocolate. And a little Wasabi pea increased its intensity. The initial meal was a boxed vegetarian lasagna with Ricotta and Mozzarella cheese that I freely doused with grated Parmesan cheese. This was a good rustic wine, but it was somewhat thin.

The following meal focused on a barbecued chicken leg. I was first hit by the wine’s excessive sweetness. There was some oak, light tannins, and acidity, and fair length. When paired with the side dish of potatoes roasted in chicken fat, this Sicilian darkened and deepened. In the face of zesty guacamole the libation’s acidity stepped up. I tasted black cherries. The fruit juice candy dessert muted the wine and only a bit of acidity remained.

My final meal centered on slow cooked shoulder steak. The liquid was rustic but thin. When paired with the accompanying potatoes cooked with the meat, the wine stepped up somewhat and presented good acidity. The drink toughened when I doused the meat with a generous helping of Louisiana hot sauce. A Turkish salad consisting of tomato, tomato paste, onion, sweet red pepper, garlic, sugar, and other spices had no effect on this wine.

Final verdict. I don’t think that I will bother to try this wine again. It was too hit and miss. This producer makes a similarly priced Syrah that I might try but it won’t be at the top of my list.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but drinking fine Iwine with good company. He loves teaching computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. His Italiian  travel website is http://www.travelitalytravel.com .

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