Cherry Ripe: Sicilian Vespers & The Perfect Supper Wine
Over the weekend a friend and I had a late post-concert supper at the Time Warner location of Landmarc, the pleasantly bustling eatery overlooking Columbus Circle. Neither of us was particularly in the mood for a huge meal, making this the perfect spot to sample some excellent wine and some small portions. One of the things I love about Landmark is that practically every plate is offered as a half-portion. We ordered the pasta of the day––a spaghetti Bolognese––and some boudin noir with pommes frites. As for wine, the 2005 Gaunoux Bourgogne ($46) would compliment both dishes and provide enjoyment throughout the entire meal; except they had just opened their last bottle about a half-hour before we sat down. So I consulted the list again and almost immediately zeroed in on a 2006 Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico from Azienda Agricola Cos ($48).
“Cerasuolo” means “cherry-red” in Sicilian, and indeed it was, with pristine clarity and hue. Even before bringing the glass to my nose, I could assess the weight and rusticity––all those qualities that the rest of the evening would allow it to bring out. The wine had a gorgeous cherry nose and palate, a nice dose of spices and, most importantly, the terroir that I was looking for in my first bottle selection. Still quite youthful and full of luscious berry fruit, its lighter weight appealed and didn’t overpower the casual, simply prepared food.
Made from a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frapato grapes (60/40) grown in sandy, tufa-rich soil and fermented in stainless steel, Cerasuolo usually doesn’t see new wood. That said, if deep, rich, high-alcohol oaky reds are your thing, this won’t do the trick. But for me it’s got just the right dose of old world charm. While some vintages can be cellared for a decade or more, the vast majority of bottles are intended for enjoyment in the short term.
If you are a Burgundy-lover but want something for everyday quaffing at a recession-proof price, Cerasuolo is where it’s at. As the Sicilians say, Quannu amuri tuppulìa, 'un lu lassari 'nmenzu la via. (Roughly translated as,“When love knocks, be sure to answer.”)