Sicily may as well be its own country. Yes, it’s part of Italy, but when you consider the culture, the landscape, and yes, the wine, you notice some incredibly unique characteristics of this island that keep you guessing and pull you in. At Lamoresca, named after the local olive variety, Moresca, the 4 hectares under vine are surrounded by iron rich, red-tinted clay and sandstone hills that, during the heat of the summer, may make you think you’re closer to Mars than to Italy. The vines stand close to booming olive trees, co-mingling with the history and heritage of the land. Wines coming from Filippo and Nancy Rizzo hold on to those traditions, while maintaining a natural winemaking philosophy that showcases the region’s terroir.
Understanding Sicilian wine is understanding Sicilian soil, climate, and culture. The climate near Lamoresca, about a 30 minute drive from the Southern coast, is very warm and dry, with very little rain. They harvest their grapes by hand at full ripeness, which usually happens in the last week of October. They focus heavily on their olive oil production, taking care to tend their local olive trees—Moresca and Tonda Iblea varietals that produce a fruity, delicate flavor that’s typical of Sicily.
Lamoresca’s wines are all extraordinary. They focus on the historic grapes of their region, including Nerello Mascalese, Nero D’Avola, and Frappato, but the one that’s especially close to my heart is their “Nerocapitano”, made entirely from Frappato, a lighthearted grape that makes a joyful, earthy red wine in the hands of team Rizzo. Nerocapitano is a local name for Frappato, one that can be used interchangeably. This wine is made with an eye to tradition, fermented with no temperature control in open top plastic vats. You won’t find huge new-fangled winery equipment here. The wine sits on the skins for two weeks, then undergoes a natural malolactic fermentation, in tandem with the Sicilian breeze.
I drank this wine over Memorial Day weekend, when I unplugged and took a trip up to a remote cabin in Maine with my boyfriend. We were completely alone, an hour drive from the nearest town and cell phone reception. We started a fire outside, sat on a couple of wooden Adirondack chairs, and popped the Nerocapitano before the sun set. The wine was a perfect match to the warmth of the day, with gorgeous bright cherry notes and a beautiful texture. It’s light, yes, but earthy in a way that’s unique to a Sicilian wine. Volcanic flavors bounce around a perfectly balanced acidity. It’s a wine made to be enjoyed in nature, recognizing your own terroir—the feel of the breeze, the smell of the grass and soil, and the warmth of the early summer sun.