Over the past few years nero d’avola, the ancient native red variety of Sicily, has really captured the imagination of sommeliers and consumers alike. So much so that 55 plantings of nero d’avola can now be found in Australia and a good number of producers are already making excellent wines from the grape.

The foresight of the McLaren Vale Chalmers family nursery in deciding to import Italian vine material in the late 1990s has much to do with the grape’s growing popularity with winemakers. It realised that nero d’avola was one of  a number of Italian varieties perfectly suited to Australia’s challenging and climate change affected environment.

Nero d’avola’s naturally naturally high acidity levels and generous tannins allow winemakers to make a medium-bodied, balanced wine that displays bright red fruit aromas as well as savoury notes. Some examples even display delightful floral aromas, not unlike the terroir-expressive pinot noir.

Chalmers began importing nero d’avola in 1998 but due to quarantine restrictions it was not released on the market until 2001. Consequently Sicilian examples of nero d’avola from vines with a bit of age provide a hint of how Australian versions of the variety will likely evolve as the country’s plantings mature.

The Feudo Di Santa Tresa Avulisi Nero D’Avola Red 2011 ($39.99) is one of the best examples from Sicily. It’s the flagship wine of the organically farmed 50 hectare Feudo Di Santa Tresa estate. Originally founded in 1697, Feudo Di Santa Tresa’s light red sandy loam soils on a well-drained limestone base not only imbue the wines with minerality but guarantee a vital supply of water in what are typically hot and dry conditions.

The grapes for Avulisi come exclusively from the estate’s  oldest and finest nero d’avola vines, which are over 45 years old.  A deep bouquet of wild berries, blackcurrants and spices continues to come through to the palate, which is rich, ripe, intense and has great length. The winery notes that plenty of wild boar roam the island of Sicily, and the Avulisi works beautifully with roasted wild boar with sage and honey! Delicious!

11 bottles of the Feudo Di Santa Tresa Avulisi Nero D’Avola 2011 is available on the Cellarit Wine Market for $39.99 a bottle.

By Merrill Witt, Editor