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Inspiring island wines: reds from Sicily and Sardinia

Update, September 4, 2018: the Etna Rosso and Barbazzale are now out of stock, so the mixed case is no longer available, but the rest of the wines are, as is the Etna Bianco that was my wine of the week. The offer runs until Sunday September 9. I've added a food note to the Frappato.

This week's Wine of the Week is an Etna Bianco, made from indigenous grape varieties grown in the mineral-laden volcanic soils of Mount Etna at 700–750m. It's on The Wine Society's main list but also in a mixed case of Sicilian and Sardinian wines that is part of the Society's current Italian offer. It's a great way of getting a flavour of the individualistic wines, grape varieties and producers of these two islands, so I'm posting details of some of the reds below. The 12-bottle mixed case is £145 (saving £14.80).

Nicosia Fondo Filara Frappato 2017, Sicilia DOC, £9.95

Made from Sicily's Frappato grape, a juicy, light, spicy red with summer-pudding fruitiness and a sour-cherry tang. Drink irresistibly cool, on its own or with food. It's a great match for wild Keta salmon and for creamy, lightly tangy cheeses.

Nicosia Fondo Filara Etna Rosso 2016, Sicily, £12.50 (now out of stock)

Red wine counterpart of this week's Wine of the Week. Red berry fruit with smoked paprika spiciness, mineral freshness and fine, silky tannins. The joy of volcanic soils.

Cottanera Barbazzale Etna Rosso 2016, Sicily, £13.95 (now out of stock)

Mostly Nerello Mascalese, the finer and more structured of the two Nerello grape varieties, and unoaked to show off the freshness and purity of its berry fruit and minerality.

Cantina Mesa Primo Scuro Cannonau di Sardegna, Sardinia, £9.50

Made from Cannonau, aka Grenache or Garnacha, this is full of sweet, fresh fruit with a spicy scorched-earth character and a fragrance of violets. Can be drunk cool.

Argiolas Costera Cannonau di Sardegna 2016, Sardinia, £12.50

Sweet, ripe strawberries-and-cream fruit, spicy milk chocolate and soft, flattering oak (it was aged for 8 months in French barrels). Very alluring.

Argiolas Cardanera Carignano del Sulcis 2016, Sardinia, £14.50

Round and supple Carignan with dusty earth warmth and sweetness, spicy depth and a liquorice and redcurrant freshness.

Agricola Punica Barrua Isola dei Nuraghi 2013, Sardinia, £27

A powerful, velvety red made from old-vine Carignano given extra fruit definition and a bit of international gloss by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (15% and 5% respectively). The illustrious trio behind it is Giacomo Tachis (ex-Antinori), Sebastiano Rosa (ex-Sassicaia) and Antonello Pilloni (ex Santadi).

Photographs by Joanna Simon

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