Stemmari’s Nero D’Avola is best drunk while watching “The Godfather” --- part one, of course --- and eating pizza with extra garlic next to a roaring fireplace. This Feudo Arancio 2010 Nero D’Avola of Sicily is exceptional, and made with Sicily’s most famous native varietal. The deep, dark purple plum has fruit-forward flavors of red currant, as well as a good tannin structure that brings a long finish, yet smooth like velvet on the palate. Pair it with “The Godfather” and a pizza, as well as risottos, baked pastas, game and aged cheeses.
The name Stemmari was cultivated from “Stemma,” meaning coat of arms --- the same coat of arms (a crowned lion bearing a cross) on the main entrance of the winery in Acate di Ragusa, a 17th-century building once used as a summer residence of local nobility. I hope to visit one day soon, especially knowing the vineyards maintain "green" practices.
Aside from “The Godfather,” another bottle of Stemmari wine is enjoyed during the holiday tradition, Feast of the Seven Fishes. For this dinner, sips of Stemmari’s Grillo went round the table. This deep, straw-yellow wine is made from the most famous and widespread white varietal on the island of Sicily. Historically, it was used for the production of Marsala, but with a feast of fish dishes, the delicate acidity worked quite well with shrimp cocktail, breaded clams and bacon-wrapped scallops. It offers such a clean, elegant experience that almost masks the fact that you are drinking it surrounded by family – dysfunction and all.
Another white to try is the Chardonnay, grown in the ideal environment within land surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. Perfetto, I say of this full-bodied 2011 in all its yellow-golden glory. Pairing it with a South West France cassoulet dish was enjoyable, as was its pairing with haddock and roasted Brussels sprouts.
While baking holiday cookies, a bottle of Stemmari 2010 Pinot Noir was opened, which paired well with a ricotta and red sauce lasagna. Strong in red cherry flavor, this blue-rimmed red is a wine best described as all that expresses Sicily in its intensity. Pairs well with roasts, red meats and pastas with meat sauces.