Winemakers in southern Italy have been using the appassimento tecnique to make their red wines smoother and more concentrated, but a white given the treatment is a rarity. Perhaps it won’t be once more producers taste this Sicilian Grillo – a mouthwatering riot of passion fruit, candied grapefruit peel, pineapple, dried pear and spiced apricot, with succulent texture and pivotal acidity.
The man behind the wine is the ever-creative Stefano Girelli, who has two estates in Sicily, although this doesn't come from either. The Grillo grapes for Nero Oro all come from the Marsala region. Two appassimento methods are used: twisting the bunches on the vine in mid-August then leaving the grapes to dry naturally in the vineyard; and drying grapes on mats for around 15 days until they’ve lost 10-15% of their weight. The two lots of grapes are united before fermentation and the wine is aged for 3–4 months on its fine lees before bottling.
You can drink this on its own, but because it has some residual sugar – 8.3g/l, deftly off-set by the acidity – it works well with tagines, other savoury dishes with fruit, mild curries, root vegetables and red peppers and also cheese dishes and cheeses such as Beaufort, Comté, aged Gouda, Parmigiano-Reggano and firm sheep’s cheeses. 13.5%
Nero Oro Grillo Appassimento Sicilia 2019, Sicily, Italy
£8.99 (in any 6-bottle mix), or £9.99 for a single bottle, Majestic