Nearly thirty years ago Anna Tasca Lanza launched a cooking school and series of cook books in hopes of bringing the home cooking and fresh ingredients of Sicily to the world. Nestled in a 200 year old wine estate in rural Sicily her daughter Fabrizia Lanza continues her mother’s work. The food, is a reflection of Sicily’s bounty, fresh, honest and simple. It’s also no coincidence that the wines that are grown and made on the estate Tasca d’Almerita pair perfectly with Fabrizia’s food.
At a lunch hosted by Fabrizia and James Beard award winning chef Renee Erickson the perfect matching was on display. Renee prepared recipes from Fabrizia’s cook books and wines from Tasca d’Almerita matched them and the warm summer afternoon perfectly. The wines, like the food focused on Sicily’s bounty, native varieties that were fresh and food friendly.
2015 Tasca d’Almerita Rose di Regaleali, Sicilia IGT (Italy) $10
Made completely from the native Sicilian variety Nerello Mascalese this pale pink hue of this wine belies the very warm growing conditions found in central Sicily. The bright hue hints at the brilliant aromas of grapefruit, cherry and crushed stone. The palate is light, vibrant and zesty with flavors of cut strawberry, rhubarb and raspberry. The acidity is ample and this wine pairs well with food or simply sunshine on the patio.
2014 Tasca d’Almerita Cavallo delle Fate Grillo, Sicilia DOC (Italy) $18
One native Sicilian variety that I certainly wish was more widely available is Grillo. It’s a fantastic white wine grape and it’s most known for its role in the famous Marsala wine. The grape though can be a perfect food friendly dry white wine, as well as in sparkling form. The Tasca bottling is a blend of Grillo from three different sites, most importantly harvested at different times. This allows for a blend that gives a real representative character of the grape. Aromas of flint smoke and lemon zest lead into a wine that is incredibly complex at the under $20 price point. Fleshy peach, lean citrus and that underlying mineral flinty element lead to a zippy finish.
2014 Tasca d’Almerita Lamùri Nero d’Avola, Sicilia DOC (Italy) $15
Nero d’Avola is perhaps Sicily’s greatest gift to the wine world. This native variety demonstrates great range offering spicy and tannic examples that resemble Syrah, as well as bright, cherry more Pinot Noir-like bottlings. The Lamùri seems to find a nice mid point between the light and the dark with aromas of dusty cherries, along with rosemary and sage. The palate is mid-weight, with fresh fruit flavors of black and red raspberry, more dusty tannin and a touch of clove. The acid is prominent and it does well with food but there’s a depth to the finish that borders on opulent.
Pairing Picks: These wines were paired with three courses that included an olive and onion salad, and fresh tomato gazpacho with olive oil, and grilled tuna steaks with a salad of fresh and roasted tomatoes.