Sometimes your first experience with a new grape or wine region is plain awful. That's natural - it's new, and maybe it wasn't to your liking. But there are so many producers out there, how do you know whether you hate the grape or hate the maker? Well, you'll never know until you taste more of that grape/region, but I find too many wine enthusiasts just plain give up right away.
Me? I never give up on a grape or region. The eternal optimist, supporter of the underdog, I am always hoping to find that one good wine that proves myself and everyone else wrong. But when I have a disappointing experience with a grape/wine region I do the counterintuitive thing, I buy the most expensive bottle I can find - after all, if they can't make a good wine from that grape at $30+, maybe they should just give up, right? With that in mind, and despite all of my trashing of Nero d'Avola, I thought I'd give this 'misunderstood' grape a chance to shine in the climactic finish to my quest to taste one hundred grape varieties.
The most expensive Nero I could find for this day was the 2004 Donnafugata Tancredi (Contessa Entellina), a blend of Nero d'Avola (70%) and Cabernet Sauvignon. My previous experiences with Nero (and Sicilian reds in general) have been less than stellar, with most presenting leathery wall of dense, jammy fruit and little structure. But tonight's high stakes bet paid off - a first pour into the decanter and my nose was greeted by a wall of meaty black cherries (confirming my fears, I thought), but in the glass it provided an unexpected "green-ness" - green beans, peppers, and pine lumber, later some flintiness and tarriness - earthy volcanic ash as the night progressed. Incredibly crisp and focused, so unexpectedly stern and unjammy, flavourful but light at the same time. Blinded I might have thought a Loire red. My expectations were low, and this wine blew them away - a pleasure to pair with meals and nice over the next three evenings, and would probably age well over the next few years.
cork. 14% alcohol
Price: C$33.75 (SAQ)