Friday, August 26, 2011

Wines I'm Drinking: 2009 "La Piazza" Sicily Catarratto/Chardonnay

Another inexpensive white from my local Grocery Outlet. This is a blend of Catarratto (75%) and Chardonnay, from Sicily. The label claims the Catarratto element gives the wine a greenish-gold color, but it looked a fairly typical, pale straw color to me. The nose was distantly suggestive of cantaloupe at first, but fairly closed on the whole. On the palate the wine was a bit unusual in having a rather long finish but without having much impact initially or on the mid-palate. My first impression was of a fairly thin, generic white. In other words, it really didn't taste like much until well after I'd swallowed it, when I got a slight buttery taste and hints of citrus. Suspecting I may have started out with the wine too cold to show it at its best, I lingered over a glass (several, actually).

While lingering, I got out my copy of Jancis Robinson's Vines, Grapes, and Wines (Mitchell Beazley, 1986), my favorite book about grape varieties. I always turn here when encountering a grape new to me. The La Piazza label calls Catarratto "an indigenous Sicilian grape," which seems true enough, but Robinson in her section on such grapes mentions two distinct varieties with similar names--Catarratto Bianco Comune and Catarratto Bianco Lucido. That left me wondering which is involved here. Robinson notes only that the first of the two is widely used in making Marsala.

The Oxford Companion to Wine, however, refers to these as forms of the same grape, saying that the latter--Catarratto Bianco Lucido--is the superior form for winemaking, while dismissing the grape in general as mostly producing "excess" wine that is distilled or made into grape concentrate. After these disparaging remarks, the book says (in something of a contradiction) that some "characterful white table wines" are made from Catarratto and points the reader to the entry for "Sicily"--which I turned to. That entry mostly suggests modern winemaking techniques (refrigeration, in particular) have begun to reveal possibilities that may have been dormant in the grape. A good, modern Catarratto is described as having "fruity and floral qualities not unlike the wines of Friuli and Alto Adige" (both in northeastern Italy).

Going back to the wine after it had warmed a little, it had gained considerable body and the citrus element on the finish was more pronounced. There was also a little spiciness on the finish that I hadn't noticed at first and there were hints of nuts as well. While this is not exciting wine, it's not at all bad either. Crisp, light, and easy to drink. It is probably excellent with seafood. I suspect it would be a good oyster wine. At $2.99 a bottle ($2.49 a bottle if you buy by the case), it's hard to complain. I will probably go back and buy a case of this one for use at home. At $32.42 a case (including tax), it's a steal.

I have no financial connection with any producer or retailer of wine. 
For more wine reviews, use the Wines I'm Drinking label.

1 comment:

  1. Your review is spot on.

    Try the Nero D'avola/merlot. It seems to not be a 'wow' but defintely not bad either. At the price point it is very good. My women friends seem to enjoy this more than men as it is not as full body and complex.


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