A couple of crackers!

We’re back in the Old World again for this week’s first recommendation; Sicily to be precise – an island whose winemaking history goes back to the 8th century BC, even before the arrival of the Greeks. Until quite recently the overwhelming proportion of its output was either the fortified and usually sweet Marsala or tanker-loads of pretty ropey blending wine which could end up almost anywhere. Then in the 1990s quality began to replace quantity and many of the old, over-producing vineyards were pulled up and replaced by some of Sicily’s old, indigenous varieties. Of course, the likes of cabernet, syrah and chardonnay also got a look-in due largely to the massive increase in demand for more ‘international’ wine styles. What I have here though is one of Sicily’s own, the white catarratto, and while much of this variety’s output still produces some fairly ordinary stuff you can certainly find the occasional gem that stands out a mile. Here we have the 2011 Doricum from Feudi di Sant’ Eufemia (one of whose partners is the brilliant Giacomo Montresor) and this wine beautifully expresses both the flavour of the grape and the local terroir at a surprisingly modest price. It is floral and slightly nutty with lovely exotic and stonefruit notes, finishing with a soft, lemony bite. List price is just £6.69.

Another wine that got my taste buds salivating recently was from my old friends at Emiliana in Chile; the Novas Gran Reserva Cabernet Merlot 2009. As South America’s largest organic producer, their spectacular vineyard and winery at Los Robles has the added benefit of being biodynamic and features the sensory delights of roaming Alpacas, dung heaps and dynamised biodynamic mixtures to treat the vineyards. Winemaker Cesar Moralis has done a fine job here. Grapes from Colchagua and Maipo were fermented in both stainless steel and oak barrels and the result is a belter of a wine – deep ruby red, packed with bramble, blackcurrant, vanilla, cocoa and spice yet soft on the palate with an opulent and silky finish. This would be a perfect match to most robust red meat dishes, and is a snip at £9.25.