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Azienda Agricola Poggio di Bortolone

Azienda Agricola Poggio di Bortolone

Sicily produces some wonderful wines but there is only one that has been awarded the prestigious DOCG status. It comes from the southeast of the island around the town of Vittoria and this gives the wine its name, Cerasuolo di Vittoria which translates as the cherry of Vittoria. This wine is a blend of two Sicilian grape varieties, 50% to 70% Nero d’Avola, with the balance made up of Frappato. To find out more about this pre-eminent Sicilian delicacy we went to a winery called Poggio di Bortolone. This small estate has been in the Cosenza family for over 200 years, handed down from father to son. The current incumbent is Pierluigi and all around there are echoes of the past; there is the old watermill by the river Para Para, that used to crush olives prior to pressing, as well as the old wine press.

The story of Italian wine in the south of the country is one of strong, rich wine exported in bulk to the north to add body to the weaker products of the colder northern climes of France. This began to change in the last decades of the 20th century and for Poggio di Bortolone it was Pierluigi’s father, Ignazio, who set the winery on the road to modernisation when, in 1982, he bottled the estate’s first Cerasuolo. Innovations followed at regular intervals culminating in 2009 in the construction of the modern underground cantina that gives optimal control of temperature and humidity. All this allows Pierluigi to continue his pursuit  of quality as he produces around 80,000 bottles of wine a year from his 15 hectares of vines. 

Today, the estate produces three versions of Cerasuolo di Vittoria and all are delightful. The first is a Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico blended at 60/40 Nero d’Avola and Frappato. The vines are on average 15 years old and the harvest is around the end of September to the beginning of October, depending on the climatic conditions of that particular year. Following a fermentation of at least 10 days, the wine is aged for 18 months in stainless steel. The result is a deep red ruby colour with hints of purple and a bouquet full of bitter cherry and plums. On the palate the structure is good with medium tannins. Try pairing this with a traditional Sicilian dish such as Pasta alla Norma.

The second, Contessa di Costanza, is blended at 50/50 Nero d’Avola and Frappato and has an intense ruby colour. On the nose there are aromas of red currant and cherry. In the mouth there is a rich fresh acidity that accompanies an excellent structure and a fruity and persistent finish. Pair this with red meat or mature cheese.

The final Cerasuolo di Vittoria that Pierluigi produces is called Para Para and is named after the river that runs through the estate. This is blended 60/40 Nero d’Avola and Frappato from vines with an average age of 20 years, grown in the rich sediment from the river bed that gives the wine its name. After a 15- day maceration, the wine matures for 18 months in stainless steel tanks before spending another nine months in 500-hundred-litre tonneau of French oak. After bottling, another six months must elapse before Pierluigi will allow the public access to this wine. The colour is an intense ruby with a bouquet full of morellino cherry and plums, with a hint of cinnamon. On the palate the tannins have softened to provide a complex structure giving a long finish with a hint of chocolate. Enjoy this Sicilian ambrosia with mature cheese or game. 

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